I call the sparrow my miracle bird, because its survival seemed nothing short of miraculous.
As a teenager, I loved (and still love ) all kinds of animals. The morning I saved a sparrow I was at the barn where I boarded my horse. It was a wonderful morning in early May with pastures starting to green and yellow wildflowers speckling the fields. I had just finished my barnyard chores when I spotted the bird. Too young to fly, it hopped awkwardly on the dirt driveway between stables.
To my horror, I also spotted a tractor chugging relentlessly along the driveway. There was no time to alert the driver. Unaware of the tiny life in his path, he drove directly over the bird.
I watched in agony and then relief as the sparrow emerged unscathed, having somehow escaped the tractor’s tires. But my relief was short-lived. One of several barn dogs populating the stable rushed to complete the job. The dog, whose name was Lambchop, grabbed the unfortunate bird in his jaws. I reacted quickly, dashing toward the dog.
“Drop that bird, Lambchop!” I commanded, seizing the dog’s neck. Lambchop complied and let go of the bird, which had not even suffered a tooth mark.
I transported the bird home in a shoe box and it escaped into a calamity of mishaps. First it got loose in the family room, then somehow got up the chimney. When I managed to retrieve the bird, it was blackened with soot, which led to my decision to bathe it in our laundry room sink.
Have you ever dried a sparrow with a blow dryer? That’s what my mother found me doing when she got home.
She might have been more surprised if she weren’t so used to my tendency to collect all sorts of animals, injured or otherwise, and bring them home for “treatment.” It was my mother who came up with the idea of claiming an abandoned bird’s nest from the bushes beside the house to serve as my sparrow’s home away from home. The bird would not get into bed by itself, so I placed it gently in the nest, where it spent the night, tiny head tucked under its wing.
The following day we were unable to persuade the sparrow to eat. It obviously had not learned to peck at seeds or insects, so my mother and I solved the problem by rubbing peanut butter over its beak. Within hours, our bird had learned to perch on my finger and peck peanut butter. Soon it graduated to pecking seeds and crumbs from the floor.
Each day the sparrow made more progress toward learning to fly. I helped it along by tossing it gently in the air, encouraging it to flutter around the screened porch. Landings were rough at first, but the bird rapidly perfected both its flying and its landings.
A disappointing day arrived when the sparrow would no longer perch on my finger or eat the peanut butter I offered. It fluttered frantically higher, trying to escape. Obviously, my little bird was wild again, not recognizing me as its savior and benefactor.
Half regretfully, I decided the time had arrived for freedom. Managing with some difficulty to capture the sparrow, I carried it outside and tossed it gently skyward. The bird flew gracefully to the top of a tall pine, where it landed with perfect precision. Then it flew even further, soaring out of sight beyond the boundaries of our yard.
When I think back on my time with the sparrow, I think of God’s relationship with me. He’s taken care of my needs through the years, even when I wasn’t aware of his presence, rescuing me from dangers I didn’t see at the time. But God has also given me something wonderful that I was unable to give the sparrow. He has given me an ability to perceive His presence and communicate with Him through prayer.
“But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. Do don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” Matthew 10:29–31.