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The Treasure of Waiting

Shortly after arriving in Barranquilla, the girls were still in that golden age of making bird feeders, birdhouses, and fairy gardens. It took us a while to gather all the supplies for our Caribbean bird feeder. We could already imagine the beautiful coastal birds we would attract with our recycled and painted bottles. We were especially excited because we were studying birds for science, and knew that Colombia hosts the greatest diversity of species in the world. When we started searching for birdseed and found none, we should have stopped to wonder why. We would not be deterred. Perhaps we couldn’t find birdseed because we weren’t using the right name for it. The search continued until finally, we found a very small package of seed at a pet store for caged birds. 

That same day we hung our feeder close to our living room window so we could observe the Colombian species without bothering or scaring them off. Our expectations of grandeur were high. They began to wane, however, when a few days passed and we saw no birds approach the feeder. Could it be that they didn’t like our food? We tried a different variety of bird seeds from the pet store. When that didn’t work, we tried making our own recipe of seeds and grain. Imagine our disappointment as the days turned to weeks and weeks turned to months… no birds. 

It isn’t that there weren’t birds. We saw them everywhere. We saw them calling out in the early morning. We spotted them high up in the mango trees. One day, long after taking our feeder down in defeat, I was sitting up in our little windowless patio looking out at the palm trees right in front of our house. At first, I heard a bird call I had been hearing for the past weeks. It sounded like a low whistle and sharply went up after a few chirps. Suddenly, a bright, yellow, medium-sized bird hopped up into my view. I held my breath in excitement. 

“What a beauty!” I thought to myself as I watched him peck at the yellow buds protruding out of the palm pods in the top half of the palm tree. The palm pods looked like rock candy. All of a sudden a question emerged and then truth followed closely behind in my thoughts. 

Had I ever seen any houses with bird feeders?  No. Interesting…

The trees are the bird feeders. There is no need to make an artificial feeder when our dry tropical climate teems year-round with seeds, flowers, and fruit. I thought about our street hosting oak, mango, almond, guanabana trees, coconut, and other varieties of palms. 

Was it arrogance or ignorance that kept me from understanding this for the first six months of living here? Probably both. 

It made me wonder: What other treasures have I been arrogant or ignorant to see? 

Not only culturally, but spiritually. How many gifts has God provided for me naturally that I have not opened my eyes to see? Am I willing to just receive them in gratitude?

Sometimes I have to look a bit deeper. Thankfully, the Lord is patient. He waits for me to see it.  There are many mysteries waiting to be discovered. As a Truth-seeker, there is truth to be found. When a piece of the puzzle is found, I have to admit, sometimes I’m a little embarrassed that I hadn't seen it before. Once I get over that, awe makes itself cozy in my truth-seeking soul. Awe produces gratitude and also puts me in my rightful place: an image-bearer but not God. This is not an insult. This is exactly who I am. There is peace in knowing who He is, and who I am.  

We would go on to read that depending on the population of insects in an area, a bird will produce more or less eggs/chicks. When insects increase, so does the bird population. Isn’t that incredible? The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. 

I don’t know about you, but I want to be someone who marvels. Someone who worships God because He is Creator God. I get to live my entire life discovering new mysteries. It’s like one big treasure hunt. He calls me every day to look up and out. It isn’t enough to hear the truth from others. I need to pray asking God to reveal Himself.  He honors that asking. Not only that, the Bible says that He reveals Himself to us. 

The greatest and most beautiful way we see this is Jesus becoming human flesh. 

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” Colossians 1:15

What an incredible mystery that God the Father would reveal the greatest treasure of all Creation. Amazing. 

There are so many times as a missionary that I am not so quick to see the Lord’s provision when it isn’t what I am looking for. There have been many relationships that at first were easygoing and exciting as we began studying the Bible together and praying. As we dived deeper into the Truth of what it means to be a follower of Jesus, real decisions surfaced not just hypothetical concepts. One by one, they wavered…many quit. 

I started to wonder… Am I the common denominator here?

I was tempted to view the relationships with a linear mindset. 

Step One: Start discipleship relationship and regular meetings

Step Sixteen: Warm embrace with disciple and tell them they are ready to begin their own discipleship relationships with others. 

How could I not realize that life doesn’t work that way and that Jesus’ relationships with his disciples didn’t work that way? God had/has very special, unique plans for his people. 

Sure enough, just recently the people I had had to let go, came back. They hadn’t left at all. They needed to search for God as well. 

Meanwhile, Creator God invites me to search as well. Ultimately, He wants me to be patient like Him. He wants me to wait. He wants me to be willing to wait and see. Even when I can’t see, He invites me to believe in the gift set before me, from Him. And the most beautiful gift I have experienced in my growth as His disciple: He doesn’t change like shifting shadows (James 1:17).

Where we change and are inconsistent, He invites us to wait patiently just like Him. When I imitate Him, I am honoring Him and glorifying Him. I am also inviting my disciples to be like my Lord. It isn’t natural. That is what makes it so beautiful and challenging. Trusting God with an open heart that says: I will wait. I will trust.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17

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Beautiful and powerful words, Angie. Thank you.

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