We had a wonderful time with the East Salinas kids last Saturday! Here's a story we told to end the day… A word of encouragement for when you've gone through a rough time, when you've been attacked, when you're scared, when you're still carrying the scars inside if not outside … This happened a little while ago here at the Ranch: I saw a flutter. A hop. And the cat pounced. “Nooooo!” I raced out the door. “Friskey, put that bird down!” I crossed the lawn and skidded to a stop in front of my bird-catching cat. “No birds. We like birds.” Friskey looked up at me with big, blue eyes. I tapped his nose. “Let go.” The bird lay motionless in his mouth, its eyes wide, its feet curled. “Friskey.” His whiskers twitched. Then slowly, he set the bird on the ground, backed up a few paces, crouched, and wiggled his back end. I snatched up the bird. It lay still in my hand. I could feel its tiny heart pounding beneath my fingers. “Not for you, Friskey.” I turned and walked toward the porch. Friskey trotted behind me. Once there, I carefully examined the little bird. It looked like some kind of sparrow. “Not one falls to the ground without God knowing,” I murmured as I ran my fingers over the wings, back, and stomach. I found no injuries. The bird seemed unharmed. Friskey meowed. “Go away, Frisk. Go catch me a gopher or something. We don’t like gophers.” He made one trip around me, rubbing his sides against my pantlegs, then moved away. I watched him go then placed an old towel on the porch, put the still-immobile bird on the towel, and surrounded it with an old piece of fencing, tall enough so Friskey could not get in if he should come back. The bird sat on the towel and did nothing but blink and breathe. I waited, and waited, and waited. Still the bird did not fly away. Friskey returned, glanced at the bird, and meandered away again. Still the bird blinked, and breathed, and did not use its wings. It sat there for hours, rescued, unharmed, and completely immobilized by lingering fear. I spoke gently to it, I fluttered my fingers at it, I left it alone. Even when Friskey returned and stared through the fence slats, it did not choose freedom. It chose fear. It took most of the day before that little bird finally fluttered out of its enclosure and settled in a distant tree, far from the threat of the cat’s claws. It took all those hours for it to realize the top of its cage was open and it could fly away from its fear, that it could use the wings that God gave it. As I stood there, watching the tiny bird-figure in the far-off tree, as I watched it hop along a branch then take wing and fly off into the now-twilight sky, I wondered how often I lived my life just like that little sparrow. God rescued me from the claws of sin and death. He set me free and gave me wings. Galatians 5:1 (NIV) says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free ... do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Yet too often I remain immobilized by fear from the past. The great cat lurks around me, yet I don’t fly away. I don’t spread out my God-given wings of faith and hope to be free. I don’t even look up to see that there is no fence above me. And all the while, God is whispering to me, “Fly little bird! I’ve set you free. Come higher, and leave the cat behind you.” He’s calling me to greater heights, to put aside sin and fear, to lay down the hurts of the past, that so easily entangle (Hebrews 12:1), and to find joy by flying where I really belong. Birds weren’t meant to be stuck in open-topped cages. They’re meant to fly free. They’re meant to give glory to God by using the gift of wings that he’s given to them. I am meant to fly too. “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline,” Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 1:17 (NIV). Today, I want to use my wings to fly in the love and power of God, no matter how many scary cats have come my way.
"Thank you very much! Helping out has been a great experience for me and has changed me a lot. Thank you, and your family, WONDER WOOD RANCH."
--Luis, volunteer at Wonder Wood Ranch