His body is the size of my house cat’s body. Dominant, feared, avoided, he’s crowned king in a kingdom of paw-sized creatures. But he’s not a nice king. He bosses. He pushes. He’s an aggressive bully.
This morning I watch as he swoops toward my deck railing, monster-sized even for his own species. He lands and the sparrows and chickadees and cardinals flee. Frightened swooshes of startled wings carry even the bravest to nearby tree limbs. They perch and watch as the dreaded Blue Jay King gobbles down their breakfast.
He grabs and gulps with sharp, jerking motions. Strutting through the feast I laid out minutes earlier, he carelessly flings seed as he snatches. But all the while he furtively watches. It’s almost as if he’s afraid himself.
As he protects his bully-won domain, could it be that he’s afraid? No, that’s not possible. Bullies aren’t afraid. He’s just arrogant, right? I watch his blue-painted beauty as he prances about, posturing, working to maintain his dominant (but lonely?) position. And I begin to feel compassion.
I used to be mad at his haughty self. How dare he arrive in arrogance and scare away all my beloved birds. How dare he snatch up what I bought and spread for all of the winter-needy to enjoy. How dare he be such a bully!
Do mean birds deserve to be fed?
I do guess I hope so.
Because although I feel much more like a sparrow, I’m still like this blue jay, prancing about, protecting (and afraid of losing) my little kingdom. And God feeds me.
In fact, God spreads compassion on the most undeserving. His ways are so different from our ways. He sees the needy, dressed in diverse spectrums of aggression and dominance, hesitation and timidity, and he cares for particular hearts: He changes the destitute and beggarly from stone into beautiful flesh.
He cares for the haughty. He desires that none perish. He woos and tends the rebellious. Like me. Like you. We may view ourselves as being more like a docile sparrow, but because of sin still waging war within our body, we actually strut about in our own way. Unless stopped short by the Spirit, we operate in stony-hearted default modes: We move through our day in sublimated fear, racked with consuming concern for our own piece of railing.
The bully blue jay on my deck reminds me of this sad truth about myself. Realizing, admitting, repenting, I bow before my compassionate God. I worship Him. I’m humbled. I’m amazed. He cares for me?
Yes, He does. And His compassion, spread like seed for the tentative sparrow and the bully blue jay alike, gives Life. His mercy and faithfulness overflow the limits of imagination, and His compassion abounds.
Even toward bullies.
(Last winter’s “bird post” is still one of my favorites — you can read it here: She has no idea.)