We have a bird feeder hanging from the soffit just above a window on the front of our house. It’s a simple, two-sided wooden feeder that I bought online when I couldn’t get my act together enough to build one. I had good intentions though, and a Pinterest link somewhere to prove it, I’m sure. For over a year, my daughter and I have filled this little house-shaped bird buffet countless times, and we still feel giddy when we happen to catch a beautiful red cardinal swoop down to feast for a while, or at least until our dog scares it away.

I don’t know what it is about birds that make me smile. I love waking up early enough to go outside for a walk before the sun rises and to hear the world wake up to melodies the birds serenade with. I love watching migrations at certain times of the year, and I have fond memories of finding nests with laid eggs in my backyard as a child.

I also take great comfort when the Lord reminds us that if the birds are even taken care of, then how much more valuable am I to Him in His care for me (Matthew 6:26). For as much as I enjoy fowls, I don’t care much for the mess of cracked shells they leave behind. The verdict is still out on who is messier, the birds or the squirrels, but they sure don’t tip well.

When I remember to do it, I snag a broom from the garage and head to the front of the house to sweep away little pieces of corn kernels, along with dozens of cracked sunflower seed shells. I do this a few times a month and the tradeoff is worth the joy it brings to have our little visitors keep coming back. I had found it odd that we had yet to experience unwanted weeds or rogue plants spring up from the seed debris, but I just figured our feathered friends were that good at getting their gold.

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to invade the United States, I have experienced moments of heavy anxiety at times throughout the week. My chest has felt tighter, my patience has run thin, and my thoughts have raced more quickly.

I had forgotten to buy bird food before the chaos hit, and the birds hadn’t paid us a visit for a few weeks. We missed them, and Amazon came through for us just in time with a large bag of birdseed before their shipping times changed to accommodate the craze of the coronavirus. I refilled our feeder and went about my week as usual, though more distracted. We don’t typically come in through our front door since our garage entryway is more easily accessible and thus, I don’t walk past the bird feeder daily. However, as we drove past our house on our way back home today I noticed I had a package by the front door. I’ll snag that once I park, I thought to myself.

I walked around the corner and as I got closer to our front steps, I saw what I had assumed was a pesky weed springing up a few weeks ago. As I got closer, the weed appeared taller. What is that?! I was almost embarrassed I hadn’t ripped it out when I first noticed it because it was looking more like a stalk at this point. When I got close enough to reach out and grab for it, I noticed a bulb with a halo around it. It was facing backward, so I craned my neck around and to my surprise, I found a sunflower blooming gorgeously.

I ran my finger around the golden petals and my eyes filled with tears. I’ve always wanted to grow a sunflower, but I had never made the time to get the seeds.

In the midst of a mess or scary global pandemic, God still sees me and wants me to know it. For all the days the birds had left a seedy mess behind and nothing had ever taken root, I don't think it’s a coincidence that I found a radiant sunflower waiting to surprise me this afternoon. I might have fed those birds that made the mess, which left seed behind to bloom, but God still ultimately sustains all of His creation—including me.

Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? (Matthew 6:26;30 NLT)

Giselle Janney
Hope Church Winter Garden
Roper YMCA