Back in April, I noticed that a bird thought highly enough of the decorative wreath on our front door and decided it would be the perfect place for a nest. A few days later, I found three small blue eggs centered neatly in the nest. We were careful not to disturb it and used the front door as little as possible.
Our girls thought the eggs, which would soon be loud chirping baby birds, was just one of the coolest things in the world. On the rare occasion that we would open the front door to check in on them, the mother bird angrily flew to the tree in our front yard and chirped quite loudly to let us all know she was there and watching what was going on. As soon as the door opened, three small beaks popped up, mouths open, waiting for the mother bird to deliver a meal.
Naturally with young girls, the presence of baby birds in a nest lends itself so readily to life lessons. One of the first that came to my mind was from the book of Matthew.
Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?
(Matthew 6:26 NLT)
This verse is certainly a good one and applies well to so many teaching moments with our family.
Yet, the more I thought about the bird’s nest, the deeper the applications seemed to go.
I remember thinking how small those three little eggs looked when I first saw them. Yet, I did not consider much beyond that until the birds hatched and started to put some size on them. Eventually, they would grow to the size of the nest. Not a tad bit smaller than the nest. Not bigger than the nest, but to the exact size of the nest. This nest that the mother bird made. This nest was specifically designed and created for those three eggs. One more egg would have made the nest too small, leaving not enough room for the baby birds as they grew.
While Matthew 6:26 holds true in that God will take care of us as he does the birds, it was impossible not to think larger than that. Not only will God care for us, but he has a specific design for us as well.
I believe this holds true for the church as well. I can’t imagine our God, who cares for the birds, who designs and creates with such magnificence, would be the God that would not have a purpose for everything. I cannot see our God creating a church that was not designed to allow everyone to fit and everyone to grow.
This holds true for our friends and family affected by disability.
Imagine one day a church that sits down to brainstorm a new ministry. Now imagine that instead of creating this ministry and then also a “special needs” ministry to accompany it, imagine a single ministry was created designed for all to fit. This ministry would be created for all to be included in the nest and for everyone to grow together.
At some point soon, these baby birds will be too big for the nest. The nest that was so beautifully crafted to serve the birds will have served its purpose and the birds will leave, able to start their own family elsewhere. In my mind, I like to picture each of the birds building their own nest somewhere else.
This is my prayer for the church as well.
With 90% of the churches in the United States having no plan to reach those affected with disabilities, we must do a better job of designing our nests. We must make sure that what we are creating within our ministries are capable of not just sustaining everyone, especially and including those affected by disabilities, but that we are also allowing them to grow and eventually serve in other capacities.
Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
(Matthew 28:19 NLT)
The next time you are at church, look around your nest. Who are you serving with? Who are you growing with? Is everyone truly going and making disciples, or are some excluded from the nest?