Monday, February 6, 2012

Cardinals - God's herald to me

I was going through a very hard time one year and remember praying and talking to God about all that was going on. I desired to 'feel' God's closeness to me and 'see' his love so I asked God to bring me a cardinal to just show me he loved me and heard me. Why a cardinal? Who knows? :) Maybe because I don't tend to see them much where I live and that seemed like an out of the ordinary request. Plus, it's a red, vivid bird. Anyway, I waited and prayed, waited and prayed. And guess what!!!!

One never arrived.

I was shocked. I knew God could have brought me a cardinal, he just didn't choose to send one my way. For days I struggled with this. I asked others about the whole thing and some replied, "Well, it's not the right time for cardinals to be in the state" or "You shouldn't test God - after all he showed you his love through Christ on the cross." Ugh, at 'pat answers'. I found myself getting a little angry at God. I just didn't understand.

A few weeks later, I 'randomly' saw a red cardinal. This made me smile, chuckle to myself, and ask, "Why bring it now, God?" So I kept praying to be able to see the lesson.

At the time of my original request, was it really just not the right time for cardinals? Well, yes. But I've read stories that defy stuff like that...God stopping the sun in the sky, parting the sea, bringing water from a rock... so I knew that a season didn't stop my God! Was it just that God had already showed me his love by Christ's death? No doubt, God has showed me tremendous love and mercy by saving me through Christ but this wasn't the lesson either. I know our Lord has an ever growing love and relationship with us. He didn't only save me through Christ to go, "Okay - it's finished. Now go away." The finish was just the beginning of our relationship! Like all relationships, stuff like this has to happen... there has to be some struggle... because for a flower to grow it has to push through the soil. (and that's not always easy)

God revealed to me this: as in all relationships, demands are damaging. None of us like to have someone demand something, especially to show love. It's not that God didn't want to show me his love and support or that he didn't even want to send a cardinal. He just didn't like the demand. Would I have praised him if he had sent me a red cardinal? Yes. Would I have shared the story about it to others to encourage someone else's faith? Totally! But then what? I'll tell you...I would have just gone on asking for God to show me. And that's not love.

What God began building was a special story between us. What he began tearing down was my demanding heart and lack of surrender. I'm so grateful for NOT seeing the cardinal! Now we have a special 'signal' of sorts. Like when Carol Burnett would tug her ear at the end of her show to let her grandma know she loved her and that everything was good, it's one little way God uses to remind me he's there. He has the freedom to show me when he wants and when he knows I really need it!

I'll share a powerful example of that tomorrow....I hope God uses my little story to reveal some little lesson to you. Until tomorrow...push on little flower!

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