I was still cocooned in about three different blankets when the sun started reaching its mid-morning fingers through the blinds. Seeing as it was my day off I had the great ambition to sleep in. So, ignoring the sun’s attempts to pull me out to play, I nestled deeper into the warmth. I attempted to drift back off to sleep when suddenly an intrusive pecking came from the window next to my bed. I blinked my eyes opened and listened again: another peck on the window followed by a whistling sing-song bird voice. Despite my usual disposition to mind-murder anyone who pulls me out of my sleep, I had to smile. The song was too sweet and the wake-up call too gentle to be upset. I listened for a few minutes more, expecting it to end soon, but this little bird was insistent on getting through the glass. Smiling again, I gave in to nature and butterfly’d myself out of the sheets, got up, made the bed, and began my morning rituals. Still, the bird kept on: peck and sing, peck and sing. After nearly half an hour, I came to the window and gently pulled up the blinds to find a small, fat Ruby-Crowned Kinglet. He was clearly unconcerned with my presence and kept right on with his peck-song routine as I looked on. After watching him a while, I decided to follow my childlike whimsy. Wanting to see whatever view it was that he was seeing, I pulled on my jacket and polka dot rain boots and trudged my way to the backyard. My approach frightened him and I watched as the Kinglet flew away. I shrugged as I squeezed between the tree and the window. Standing on tiptoe I peered into my own bedroom but saw only the reflection of my own messy hair and unwashed face. It was with much squinting and looking beyond the glass and screen that I was even able to make out the dresser and chair in the bedroom I was just in. I turned back into the yard, hearing the bird sing again as if trying to give me a message. I closed my eyes to the wind, walked under the swaying tree branches and tried my best to understand. “But you are only looking at your own reflection, Kinglet. Why do you so avidly desire to come into my home, hm?” After listening awhile I went back inside. I had barely taken off my jacket when he started once again to peck and sing. I turned to the window. “Do you want to actually see beyond your reflection, little bird? Hm?” I went to the sill and opened the window about an inch, leaving only the screen between us. Kinglet came to peck, but no longer finding the stability of his own reflection in the glass, he turned and flew past the tree and away.
Going about my day I couldn’t help but think about that little bird. It’s not unusual for nature to talk (to those who listen) about the glory of God. In fact, Job 12:7-10 says it quite clearly:
“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”
I bowed my heart to such humble messengers, and as my day unfolded, so did the royal message from my little Ruby-Crowned Kinglet. There are times where we persistently ask for a thing from God without quite realizing what it is that we are asking for. We pray and He answers, but it does not look like what we had in mind, namely because His mind is so far beyond our own. We ask for deliverance, expecting an escape, and instead, He parts the seas with you. We ask for healing, expecting gentle hands, and instead, He starts rubbing mud in our eyes. We ask for victory in war, and He tells us that we have too many soldiers fighting. But every time we knock, the answer is good, even if that goodness comes in a completely different package than we had imagined. Like little birds, we knock, knock, knock at Heaven’s windows, hungry to join the feast of mysteries and presence and glory that is set at Yahweh’s table. It’s easy to knock when your perspective is simply reflecting back to you what you are already experiencing. We ask Him for more, but expect that “more” to look like a more amplified version of what we already have experienced. We want it to fit neatly like a puzzle piece when really it has come to take over. We ask for His world to come, but, without meaning to, we demand that when it does it looks like a shinier, newer version of our own world. We want what He gives us to make sense, be logical, and at least a little familiar. We want what we hear to be easy and nice. We want a reflection of our own.
I think of Alice, standing on the brink of entering the Garden in Wonderland. As she is reaching for the doorknob, the door itself began to speak to her, “Why, it’s simply impassable!” Alice wrinkles her brow retorting, “Why, don’t you mean impossible?” The door chuckles to himself, “No, I do mean impassable. Nothing’s impossible!”
We want to enter those Wonderland Gardens, but impassable places stand between us. We may believe nothing is impossible, but if we were honest, we still have some places in our hearts marked “impassable.” These boundary lines are sometimes so hidden that we think they aren’t even there, but “if you stop where you stop,” then that stopping point is more than likely a hidden marker. We speak with eloquence on the stories of staffs that bloom, prophets that married prostitutes, giants that fall with a stone, angels appearing, demons fleeing, presence in the form of cloud and fire, ladders from Heaven, bodies back from the dead, open visions, teleportation or disappearing off the earth entirely, field trips to get keys from Hell, veils tearing, prophecies fulfilled, stars leading wise men. I could go on. We hardly bat an eye at these things because the stories have become common and comfortable to us, when, to any logical mind these stories seem fanatical and fantastic, bending more towards fairytale than to fact! But if there aren’t enough books to contain the whole and if we are to do greater works than Christ and if we are to see what eyes have never seen and ears have never heard, then should there not be a great deal more of fanatical, fantastic tales in our life? When we ask for more, is this not what we should expect?
It is the kindness of God that He breaks the “No Trespassing” rule. When we seek Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, He hears. Our knocks stir His sleep and our songs of hope in the waiting, smile Him into movement. He opens the window. He lifts the veil. He leans over the sill and into our world to ask, “Do you really want more?” It’s those moments where He makes the space between our world and His so undeniably thin that we really discover where our boundary lines are. We may be startled into flight for a moment, but it is those who come back, daring to knock again, that will be filled. It is then that He will remove the glass we are looking through with dim eyes and cause us to see Him, face-to-face, nose-to-nose looking back at us. The more we stare, the more what is partial becomes whole. He matches our hunger for more…overtakes it. He comes to devour us, consume us entirely, and resurrect us into a reality far greater than we would have even known how to knock for. His world is not an upgraded version of the life we are already living. Rather it is one turned upside down and inside out. He shakes and overflows it. He mosaics our pieces into beauty. Everything He touches is marked with the fingerprints of the supernatural. Nothing remains the same.
I was delightfully surprised later that day when that little Ruby Crowned Kinglet came back again while I was preparing some lunch. He came right up to my kitchen windows and just gave it a little peck as if to say, “Thank you for listening,” fluttered before me for a while, then flew away. Smiling again, I decided to pray for more of the King, and to do my best to abide–even when what comes looks like what no eye has seen and no ear has heard. I will let no place be impassable.
Lord, Your thoughts, and Your ways are not like ours. You are Genius and Mastermind. Your mind is able to comprehend infinity with ease. Your heart is able to love every individual as Your favorite.You are Inventor, Scientist, Creator, Story-Teller, Miracle-Worker, Free Thinker, and powerful Communicator—able to speak far beyond words. You are different and You are holy. Thank You for answering our prayers with abundance, above all we could ask. Thank you for making Your Voice so sure, that we can be comforted as we walk into uncharted territories of the Spirit with you. Thank You for the limitless goodness you have to share with us in Your Kingdom. Help us to remain hungry for more, without defining what the feast must entail. May we simply come hungry, knowing you will fill us with the best. Help us to see beyond our own World and into that which is infinitely greater. May we knock even when our hearts tremble, may we return even when we’ve been jarred to flight. When you step over the lines we’ve marked “impassable,” may we with courage welcome you further. Let our hearts remain in songs of hope during the seeking. And, Lord, lift the veil, the dim glass, so that we can see You more. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*If you want to indulge more than just one sense, I suggest listening to Someway by Julianna Barwick. Words can only say so much, but words + an image + music can say more.