Matthew 10:29 – Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father's care. (NIV)
Quail are as common to me in the Okanagan as sparrows were in the Holy Land to Jesus. I usually walk blithely past them without so much as a glance as they scurry from bush to bush in the undergrowth. However, a recent encounter with a covey of quail drew my attention to today's verse and how God is aware of what happens to all life forms in His creation, no matter how common and insignificant they may be to me.
It was a beautiful summer's day in the Okanagan, and I was strolling along on my usual after-church Sabbath walk, mulling over the sermon our minister had just delivered, based on the Good Samaritan, about kindness and the question, "Just who is our neighbour?" As I strolled along, I came upon a small, rocky hill that has a very steep and primitive trail running about 300 feet up its side to an observation platform at its top. Due to my recent health problems, I have not been able to do anything more exerting than walking on the flat. I considered my options and decided that I would go as far up the trail as possible.
I started the climb and was quite delighted that I was handling the trail well. My focus was on the trail ahead of me, when suddenly, in a patch of sunlight, out darted a covey of quail. There were three adults, and several new chicks. I was taken quite by surprise as I watched them flit along the trail as the adults guided the chicks to safety in the brush. This "God moment" lasted only just that — a moment — but it left me with a sense of delight. Then the quail scurried into the undergrowth and disappeared from my sight.
I continued on up the trail and returned to contemplating the sermon: "Just who is our neighbour?" The quail are so common in our neighbourhood that I in my unawareness have taken no keen interest in them at all. It is only recently that I have learnt the call of the adult male bird, yet they are, in fact, my next-door neighbours; together we share in the providential grace of God for His creation. God is aware of them and cares for them just as much as He cares for me. As I climbed on up the trail, I asked myself a series of questions that I challenge my readers to ask: "Do I care for my human neighbours in the same way as I treat the quail?" "Am I interested in my neighbours?" "Do I care about their wellbeing?" I must admit that since knowing Jesus, my love of my neighbour has improved considerably, but I still have the need to call on His divine grace to deepen my care, my understanding, and my concern for all of His wonderful creation.
God is always awake and always aware of us all — all of His creation, even the most common of us. I came down from the hill refreshed in body, mind, and soul. It was a very delightful way to spend a sunny Sunday morning in the loving care of God.
Prayer: Dear Lord, in Your mercy, bring us into an awareness of the most common quail amongst us: the man sitting on the sidewalk with his hat between his knees, the woman pushing a cart with her load of pop cans, the teen in distress in a doorway, the invisible seniors eking out their existence right next door to us — the invisible human quail of our neighbourhood. May we bring them a smile and a blessing, all in Your name. Amen.
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