She bounces off the bus alive with energy. She drops her pink backpack on the front step and races to the backyard with just a quick hello.
“One hatched!” I hear her call from the tiny spruce tree that holds her treasure. For a week now, she’s been closely monitoring three turquoise eggs in the nest of a protective female robin.
We celebrate new life and collect earthworms at the creek with high expectations of feeding the newest addition to our little family. The next day, sheer delight unfolds as a second featherless baby emerges from its protective shell. I’m thankful for the opportunity to appreciate what I might have otherwise overlooked.
Two days pass, and we’re gathered ‘round the table on the deck for a quiet dinner beside the sinking sun when her father breaks the news. “Did you check the bird nest today?” he asks.
“Not yet,” she says.
“We have some sad news. Last night’s storm blew it down, and the birds are gone,” he gently informs.
Tears well in her crystal blue eyes.
“I know it’s sad. But it’s just nature’s way,” he tries to explain.
She nods. Takes a bite of pizza and then puts it back on the plate.
Few things hurt more than watching a child’s heart break right before your eyes.
At What Cost
I’m reminded of dozen other painful losses that have come as a result of instilling a love of the natural world in our kids: the toad we buried in the backyard, the turkey nest that suddenly disappeared, the fox that took our chickens, the diseased rabbit, the tadpoles that didn’t make it, and the list continues. It seems cultivating this appreciation for created beings comes at a cost, and sometimes, I don’t want my kids to face the pain of losing what they love.
Wiping a tear from her face and kissing her sweet-smelling hair, I consider the other option. We could stop letting our kids love nature, and there might be less pain, less loss, and less death. But at what cost? Would we not be depriving them of the joy of embracing the good? Maybe we’d even be depriving them of the life lessons that come when things don’t turn out the way we all hope.
The Cost of Faith
Sometimes my walk of faith feels far too much like the journey of nurturing baby birds in the backyard nest. I invest with all my heart, let myself fully love, and things don’t turn out the way I hope. A friendship goes sour. A ministry is torn apart by differing opinions. A mentored teen walks away from the Lord. A dream crashes to the ground with little hope of revival.
These are the moments when it’s tempting to give up. It’s tempting to throw the towel in and decide once and for all that the cost was too great. But the cost of turning away from the Lord’s best for my life is always higher than the cost of walking with him through the most difficult times.
Having Counted the Cost
Our little girl’s tears have dried by the time the table is cleared, and her eyes light up from the corner of the deck where she quietly mourned. “I know! Let’s go look and see if there are any more nests in the back part of the yard!” she exclaims.
She dances off the porch like she just received a fresh breath of life. I follow, and I commit to keep checking robins’ nests and keep ministering unto the Lord. I’ve counted the cost, and I know he is worthy.
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