With the winter upon us and most of the leaves fallen, evergreen branches remain faithful to shelter and protect our feathered garden friends. Don’t the birds seem to dart and zip about the chilly sanctuary in joyful, happy liveliness?! They live in the garden’s trees all year, but somehow escape notice, I suppose, upstaged by fluttering butterflies and busying bees. It almost feels as though I am intruding; I imagine them pleased at last to have the garden all to themselves, tweeting a grateful chorus for their evergreen havens while our family is tucked indoors.
[the cedar’s] branches multiplied, and its boughs grew long as it spread them out because of the plentiful water. All the birds of the sky nested in its branches, and all the animals of the field gave birth beneath its boughs; all the great nations lived in its shade.
Ezekiel 31:5-6 HCSB
The cheer of their chirp and song, along with its reminder of God’s sweet faithfulness to give shelter and protection, has inspired me to decorate a Christmas tree with birds and nests, resounding the ways of His kingdom every time I give it a glance.
“What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his own garden; and it grew and became a tree, and THE BIRDS OF THE SKY FOUND SHELTER and NESTED IN ITS BRANCHES.”
Luke 13:18-19 AMP
And why is this little bird story so endearing? Because Jesus said the care that God has for the birds points to a much more profound care for each of us! “Not one of them is forgotten by God,” he said of the sparrows (Luke 12:7). O, that I would remember this through the joyous, so-much-to-do season!
Garden Prayer: Lord Jesus, I am grateful for your shelter and you loving cover (Psalm 91:1-2). May I remember your refuge as the days get hectic; help my thoughts to “dart and zip” from verses to stories in your Word, as the little birds in my garden hasten from bough to branch. May I find protection from worry, nervousness, needless frets, and all things unloving. In the hospitality and gatherings with friends, coworkers, family, and neighbors, let me see our joy and camaraderie as the shelter of your everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3) May we provide refuge and nourishment to each other—the warm glow of your grace and kindness overcoming cold winter nights.
In that day the Branch of the Lord will be splendid and glorious…over all the glory and brilliance will be a canopy [a defense, a covering of His divine love and protection].
Isaiah 4:2, 6 AMP
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:6-7 NIV
For more on the metaphor of the Branch, read “The Branch,” in the Garden Stories section of God’s Word for Gardeners Bible, part of the devotion series, Jesus—The Seed, The Root, The Branch, & Firstfruits, page 772.
Photo Credits: ©2016 Shelley S. Cramm