I guess I’m finally going to have to admit it. I’ve become a birder. I never thought that would happen but the evidence is overwhelming. In recent months I’ve spent over $100 on bird books, attended three programs on birds, and spent a small fortune on bird seed and other birding supplies. I’m currently reading a fascinating book on bird language called What the Robin Knows by Jon Young. I’ve started keeping my long lens in the car so that if I come across a good opportunity to photograph a bird I’ll be ready. I’ve even been listening to recordings of bird sounds so I can better identify the birds I’m hearing around me. I haven’t reached the obsessed stage yet but I’m afraid it’s coming.
I’ve always liked birds. Don’t most people? I’ve enjoyed taking pictures of them for a number of years. Yes, I’ve liked birds for a long time but it wasn’t until I moved back to western Kentucky a couple of years ago that I really started getting interested in them. Where I now reside is by anyone’s definition a birder’s paradise. It is located on a major flyway and has an abundance of remarkable habitat that draws many birds to the area. John James Audubon lived here long ago and the area no doubt contributed to his own passion for birds. A state park that bears his name is located just a mile from my home and it has a plethora of bird species year round.
Having so many species of birds at my back door (literally) has sparked my interest in birds. I’m still not very good at identifying a good many species and I find distinguishing bird calls to be incredibly difficult and frustrating. Still, I intend to work on both disciplines and hopefully will make improvements in the coming months. I have a feeling I’ll never be that good at it but I guess I’m finally ready to officially join the ranks of birders.
Jesus once encouraged his disciples to “look at the birds of the air.” (Mt. 6:26) Since it is estimated that there are around 10,000 species of birds that may take a while. He also told a group “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.” (Mt. 10:29) Both biblical passages remind me that we can, in fact, learn much from “the birds of the air.” The late theologian and preacher John Stott has a wonderful book called The Birds: Our Teachers. If you are interested in learning spiritual principles derived from observing birds I highly recommend this book. Perhaps if I pay careful attention I might learn a few lessons as well.
O.k., I feel better getting that off my chest. Birders of the world (all 22 million of you) take note; you have added one more member to your tribe. I hope you will accept me and be patient with me. I have a lot to learn!
(I took the images shown above–northern cardinal, rose-breasted grosbeak, goldfinch and prothonotary warbler over the past week at my home and at Henderson Sloughs WMA.
“All I have needed thy hand hath provided–great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.” –Thomas O. Chrisholm
On January 13 I posted a blog here called “God Will Provide.” That was the date I resigned my position as pastor here in Pikeville. When I resigned I had no other job waiting. I simply knew it was time for me to leave here and felt I could trust God to provide me another place of service when the time was right. This afternoon I received a call telling me that I have been selected to become the new pastor of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Henderson, Kentucky. I will begin my work there in May. I am so very grateful for this opportunity and want to offer my heartfelt thanks to my heavenly Father for being the God who does, indeed, provide.
I am not going to say that I have had no anxious thoughts the past couple of months; my faith is not always what it should be. Still, I can honestly say I knew that God would eventually open a door for me to serve elsewhere. Both of God’s books, Creation and the Bible, point to a God who is faithful and good. I cannot remember a time in my life that God has let me down. I had no reason to believe He would now.
For those of you who don’t know, Henderson is in the western part of Kentucky. It is located right across the Ohio River from Evansville, Indiana. The geography there is quite different from what I’ve been used to the past twenty-four years. For almost a quarter of a century I’ve lived and served in the hills of Appalachia. I love these mountains immensely and will no doubt miss them. Still, I look forward to exploring the natural areas in and around Henderson. John James Audubon lived in Henderson for a while and there is a state park there named in his honor. The area is also on a major flyway for migrating birds. I have a feeling I’ll be doing a good bit of bird photography in the years to come. Not far from Henderson there are a number of other state parks and a national forest. There will be no shortage of places and things to explore on my days off.
One of the exciting things about moving to an area that differs geographically and naturally from the one you are used to is that it affords new opportunities to see God in His Creation. Since I will be exposed to things there that I cannot see here, it only makes sense that I’ll obtain knowledge about God and Creation that I might not know otherwise. Without a doubt, God is to be found as much in the rivers, lakes and sloughs of western Kentucky as the hills and valleys of the eastern region of the Bluegrass State. I look forward to sharing with you what I discover there.
In the meantime, I encourage you to be aware of God’s presence wherever you happen to be. Whether you experience God through Creation, the Scriptures or any other means God chooses, I hope you will always remember that He truly is the God who provides.
(I took the three pictures above at John James Audubon State Park when I was working on my book, Kentucky: Unbridled Spirit and Beauty.)