A Holiday Card from the Sparrows

I hear them when I’m walking at Radnor Lake, near my home in Nashville. Their plump bodies exposed on bare branches. Never failing to sing in warm or cold weather. For the love of God sustains the sparrow. He feeds them and cares for them like a caretaker of a royal estate. There’s food for the sparrow that I do not see on a brown and frozen ground. But the sparrow sees, for God provides.

When I witness a chubby bird, I hear, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31).

Sparrows were a cheap source of food. They were on the penny menu. Who could not afford a sparrow? They were marked down from a previous markdown. Yet God was not unaware of them—even when thrown in the bargain bin. And this is the beginning of a section in the Bible that is referred to as the “how much more” section. The “how much more” section prices the sparrow while highlighting God’s care.

We are worth much more than half-priced sparrows.

All of us walk around with a 50% off tag swinging from our soul. We’ve allowed the world to price us according to beauty, wealth, and fame. And we don’t feel worthy of God’s care. But who priced the sparrow? There’s a subtle message here. God points to the sparrow in the bargain bin and ups the value of who we are. He says, “The sparrow is the least of the creatures under my care. So how much more is your worth?”

You are worth more than a bargain, so don’t discount your worth. Learn to be grateful for whatever is in your life at this moment, because it’s a part of God’s plan. Something good will grow out of it, so practice acceptance and gratitude toward God’s plan for your life. Never discount your worth according to the struggles you face.

Thomas Merton once said, “You cannot tell me who I am and I cannot tell you who you are. If you do not know your own identity, who is going to identify you?”[i] Most of the time the world identifies us, instead of God. So reverse that today. Let God identify your worth, which is much more than sparrows.

God cares for us more than sparrows.

William Barclay said that the Jews were so impressed with the individual care of God that they claimed every blade of grass had its guardian angel.[ii]

A Restore Small Group member, who is in a 12-Step recovery process for alcoholism, reminded us of a great piece of wisdom from the Big Book that addresses this very concern. What he said was that a heart of gratitude is the perfect antidote for the anxiety we feel when we cannot control things. And just because we face difficult situations, it doesn’t mean God thinks less of us. For some circumstances can’t be controlled. But we can control how we respond to them. This is why Jesus points to sparrows. He wants us to see how out of control the sparrows are. Then he leads us to the heart of God, not just to his handouts. “How much more does God care for you?”

Grass grows under the care of God. Birds are fed. So we have no reason to worry. The needy, the unobserved, the oppressed, the down-trodden, the poor, the lonely, the forgotten, are all under the care of God. For God is faithful to the sparrow, and he will be faithful to you. He alone can make you prosper. So don’t worry. Give thanks this holiday season! And while you are at it, check out the plump sparrows. I know where you can find a few—the trees at Radnor Lake.

[i] https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/1711.Thomas_Merton?page=2

[ii] William Barclay, The Gospel of Luke, (Philadelphia: Westminster Press), 161.

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