Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

Here is a barn swallow. The picture is fuzzy because of the speed of the bird, but you can still see the distinctive swallow tail, and some of the white highlights in his tail feathers. I enjoy watching these birds because of their highly aerobatic flights. They will zip in and out and around man-made structures with ease.

A couple of decades ago, I was birding alongside a pond in California when I noticed these birds doing mid-air stalls, followed by a flip turn and flight back in the direction they came from. In my mind I visualized the perfect picture this would provide as the bird stopped in mid-air for a fraction of a second with his feathers on both, wings and tail, spread fully apart showing the details most birders only get slight glimpses of. Unfortunately, this was before the age of digital cameras and it was impractical to keep trying to get the picture given the cost of film and developing after the first few failures.

A mid-air stall is when the bird turns to fly straight up, without flapping or continuing to propel himself forward. Pretty soon gravity overpowers momentum and the bird begins to fall backward. This is when he would effortlessly flip himself, flying back in the direction he came from.

There is that brief moment when gravity and flight are at odds with each other over the fate of the swallow. For just the briefest of moments it looks like gravity is going to win, but very quickly the truth is revealed. Gravity might have had a plan. It might have built up its own hopes of sending the bird splashing into the pond below. Those hopes were futile. The truth is, even when gravity was on the verge of defeating the bird, it was unknowingly serving the bird and its planned flight.

So it is with Christ in the crucifixion. Satan, sin and death all thought for a moment they were going to overwhelm God and His Son. They hoped to see His pathetic attachment to lowly humans to become His downfall. Since He was foolish enough to take on their weak and decaying flesh, they would use this loving choice against Him. Crucifixion was accomplished. Satan’s victory seemed to be assured.

Then came the resurrection, and the realization that Satan’s schemes served God’s will. It was our victory, not the devil’s, that was secured.

When this corruptible is clothed
with incorruptibility,
and this mortal is clothed
with immortality,
then the saying that is written will take place:
Death has been swallowed up in victory.
Death, where is your victory?
Death, where is your sting?
Now the sting of death is sin,
and the power of sine is the law.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory
through our  Lord Jesus  Christ!

1 Corinthians 15:54-57 (HCSB)

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Mud Nests

Mud Nest

This is a mud nest. It was made by a barn swallow, and in this picture you can see the round head of the bird on the right side of the nest and the thin tail sticking over the left side. This nest was on an arched entryway of a hotel in Tucson.

These birds will make their nests by gathering mud, one mouthful at a time, which are then carried back home and applied to the structure. The nest will start off relatively small and grow throughout the season, as the parents continue to bring home more and more mud from their daily travels.

Aren’t you glad people don’t do this? It would be horrible if every day we brought into our homes the gunk we accumulate during our day, spewing it out in our homes and building higher and higher walls.

Come to think of it, that is exactly what most of us do. The only difference is the gunk of our lives is not mud but the anxieties of the day. “My boss yelled at me.” “Everyone else drives like idiots.” “They are laying off more people at the factory.” “The new guy is outselling me.”

We pour this gunk over the people in our households and yes, as we do we quite often build higher and higher walls. It wouldn’t be so bad if we actually discussed each of the issues above and discussed them calmly, but most of the time we would rather not admit directly what is bothering us and calm is not the order of the day.

It doesn’t take long before the decorating scheme of your home becomes Modern American Anxiety. The kids retreat to their rooms, or to friend’s houses and discussions with your spouse begin to feel like congressional debates.

The solution to this is to not carry your worries home. Paul gave some advice about the right ways to deal with these anxieties in Philippians 4:6-7

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.