Today a flock of geese congregates on the pond. They honk their nasal greeting at some stragglers flying overhead. The pair in flight lowers their flaps and puts down their landing gear. They bank and glide, catching the wind at just the right angle to slow their approach. Their feet hit the watery runway. They ski into the flock, pulling in their flaps as they come to a complete stop. The noisy greetings fade.
A few short weeks ago, the honking would have drowned out many other bird voices. Today, for the first time this season, I notice a conspicuous silence. I look, and listen, and realize the smaller migratory birds have already flown the coop. There are no bluebirds on the power lines. There are no red-winged blackbirds on the cattails. There are no swallows under the barn eaves. There are no robins pulling worms from the lawn. There are no wrens or catbirds or orioles. They flocked up and moved south when I wasn’t looking.
What built-in instinct triggers their migration still mystifies me. If they left at the same time each year, it might be a little easier to understand. But they don’t. Somehow God has wired them to sense the soon-ness of winter. An urgency compels them to return to warm, fertile places before the food supply dies out, the lakes freeze over, and the leaves fall off. Unlike those gregarious geese, the smaller birds slip quietly away, without pomp or ceremony. They will return in spring much the same way, leaving the official announcement to their clamoring Canadian cousins.
When sin ushers winter into my wicked heart, I should take a lesson from the birds. Too often I’m tempted to linger in a sinful season. After all, things aren’t really that bad… yet! Unfortunately, it isn’t long before I find myself in a desperate situation. Spiritual hunger and thirst set in. I grow colder and the ugliness of my heart is exposed. An urgency compels me to repent and return to a warm and spiritually fertile place near the heart of God, to honor Him as Lord. I do not want God to say of me, “Even the stork in the sky knows her season; and the turtledove, and the swift, and the thrush observe the time of their migration; but My people do not know the ordinance of the Lord.” (Jeremiah 8:7)