On slow summer mornings, you can find me greeting the sun at a rusted table on a vine-covered courtyard right off of my bedroom. The kids sleep, the trumpeter vine blooms, the Texas heat is kind for a moment, and I sit surrounded by some of my dearest friends- a mason jar of colorful pens, my prayer journal, and a worn Bible. It is my very own secret garden and it has my heart
I am never alone though. I share the space with a couple of flop-eared pet rabbits, four creeping box turtles, and this summer, with 16 baby chicks. They are too small to move out to the coop with the rest of the flock yet, so they are safely growing right there in my courtyard. And I love the menagerie, it adds to the magic. But the rabbits and turtles are quiet, respecting the holiness of the sunrise and this momma’s need for silence. The chicks are not. They peck, and scratch, they flap and fight over flies. Honestly, their charm is quickly being overshadowed by their mess and noise.
And some mornings, I have another tiny visitor. With a whispering whirl of invisible wings, a hummingbird occasionally sees fit to hover above as I pour over the Word, and pray over my heart. I’m sure I have missed it countless times, distracted by the pecking and the scratching, struggling to concentrate among the flapping and fighting. But what a blessing it is when I catch the faintest sound of its presence and look up. In those sacred moments, I know Jesus is there. After all, if the Holy Spirit can be represented by a dove in the New Testament, why not a hummingbird in my courtyard?
In I Kings 19, we find the prophet, Elijah, running for his life, distracted, despondent, and desperate in the face of Queen Jezebel’s threats. He has known the victory of being used to bring a widow’s son back to life, called down fire to incinerate a drenched offering in front of the prophets of Baal, and watched his prayers turn from a fist-sized cloud to a drought-ending delouse. But at this moment, he is tired and afraid. God finds him, as He always does, and tells Elijah to “go out and stand on the mountain in the Lord’s presence.” (I Kings 19:11 HCSB) Elijah obeys and a powerful scene plays out before his eyes. A terrifying wind shatters cliffs around him, an earthquake shakes the ground beneath him, and a fire lights up the sky above him. But the Lord was not found in any of these. Finally, ears buzzing I’m sure, Elijah hears “a gentle whisper (19:12)” and immediately recognizes the voice of His God.
I wonder if your ears are buzzing today too. I wonder if, like me, there are so many things on your to-do list, people clamoring for your care, and responsibilities weighing you down that you are struggling to hear God’s gentle whisper. I am learning that distractions will grow as quickly as my chicks, in size, in volume, and in the mess, they leave behind. They peck and scratch for my attention and soon the undertone of their clucking becomes normal and I forget what the still small voice sounds like.
But He promises, “You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart. I will be found by you. (Jeremiah 29:13-14 HCSB) Like Elijah, He beckons me every day to position myself, my heart, and my agenda in the path of His presence. He asks that I step out of the crush of my circumstances to seek Him in His Word, to search for Him in prayer, and to listen to Him in the whisper. He is always there waiting to be found, but unlike the crowded voices of this world, it takes a bit of effort to perceive Him.
Can you hear the hummingbird? This summer, can you catch your breath, find your own rusted table in a secret corner, and listen? Are there distractions that have grown too large and noisy? Is it time to kick them out of the sacred space so that you can discern the whispering of the wings, the still small voice? There are seasons of storms, earthquakes, and holy fires, and then there is the faintest of flutters. He may have something important to say, and He may just want to bless you with the beauty of His presence, like my hummingbird. Either way, I pray you fight for the sunrise, the peace, the quiet and notice Him there.
Now, I think I need to go move some chicks out to the coop.