Today when viewing or listening to the Christian media one often finds references to “Sowing a seed,” in connection with funding of Christian ministries. Sometimes these appeals are accompanied by direct promises that any gift to their ministry will result in a guaranteed return of many times the original gift. This return comes from “God” and never from the ministry that is doing the pleading. It is true that even Solomon said that one should cast their bread upon the waters so that it may return after many days. But he did not specifically state that the return would be ten-fold. There is certainly a truism here at the very least and even secular studies suggest that a generous outlook tends to lead to a more positive outcome.
Recently I noted that my garden tended to be devoid of bird-life so I invested in a bird-feeder and some birdseed. Initially, after I put it outside there seemed to be no takers. The next morning it seemed that hardly any of the seed had been eaten. I was at work during the day and by the time I got back about half of the seed had gone. For the next week or so it took about two days before the birds would eat most of the contents of the feeder. Now I have to fill it at least once a day. The birds that used the feeder were predominantly chaffinches and sparrows. There was the occasional robin with a few great tits and blue tits. What surprised me was that the birds tended to be fussy about which seeds they ate and would throw those they did not want on the floor. This in turn would attract other birds such as blackbirds and doves who preferred to eat seed on the ground. I began to notice that as well as birds at the feeder there were more birds in the trees waiting there turn at the feeder. A couple of weeks ago I noticed a coal tit, in the garden it visited several times during the day and eventually managed to use the feeder. I managed to photograph it but have have not seen it since. This week I have seen a yellowhammer in the garden feeding off the seed on the floor. I first saw it on Monday and have seen it nearly everyday since. It was a male one but initially I was not sure because I was unfamiliar with the species only having glimpses of them in the past and never in my garden. The females are duller than the males but I did not have both to compare them so I initially mistook a male for a female. Yellowhammers are not known as garden birds and more associated with the open countryside. Since I first posted this they have appeared in greater numbers. But they are wild birds and I cannot guarantee more species can come into my garden. True, I could put more feeders with different seeds that might attract other species. However, when it comes to Christian giving does our giving relate to our blessing. In one sense Christ died for us while we were yet sinners so our blessings are related to the finished work of Christ. Yet on the other hand we are urged to work out our salvation, and James said “I shall show you my faith by my works” All too often when we ask how much shall we give what we really mean is how little can we get away with giving. So sometimes we object to appeals because they prick our consciences and make us uncomfortable. If we are giving purely because we expect a reward then we are giving in the wrong spirit and the Lord may withhold the blessing because of it. Just because a farmer sows a lot of seed it does not guarantee a good harvest. But if he does not sow any seed then he will not get any harvest. Far too often we sow sparsely and expect a bumper harvest, then blame God when it does not happen. Just because some people abuse the concept of sowing a seed does not mean that it is invalid. The day after I originally posted this I saw as many as six yellowhammers in my garden at one time all eating my birdseed.
Now that I have a bird feeder I have seen more birds in my garden, but there are still occasions when there are none. All too easily something disturbs them and they fly off. Likewise, there will be times in our lives when God’s blessings seem to have flown away, but if we are patient they will surely return. If I was to go out into my garden when there were no birds and I ranted and raved at them then I would be driving them further away. Because there are more birds in the garden then I have more opportunities to photograph them, though they can still be very camera shy. Still, I have to take the opportunities that are presented.
Another thing I have noticed that some species are very reluctant to use the feeder itself, I noticed a hedge sparrow, or dunnock, trying on one occasion to eat from the feeder yet remain on the twig adjacent to the feeder rather than use the perch provided. Similarly there are those of us who are reluctant lean upon Christ and foolishly try to rely on the natural.
Another thought that has occurred to be me is that there are those birds that rely on the seed that other birds have thrown to the ground. Is there not a parallel between those who will listen to the sermons of others, nothing wrong in itself, yet are most reluctant to go to the spiritual source, the Bible, for their spiritual food.
David Rose 2014.