Cole and Chase were playing outside at the Florida Aquarium on a muggy July afternoon, and I found a shady spot where I could stick my feet in the cool water, too.
We spent a couple hours inside the aquarium, and we always finished with the pirate ship and water fun.
My eyes followed the bird as he hopped awkwardly along the edge of the blue foam surface in the kids’ water area, his good clawed-foot taking the brunt of each hobbled-hop.
I recognized the bird as a Grackle in the same instant I realized there was more wrong with him than just his damaged claw.
The Grackle bent down and scooped up a few sips of chlorinated water, nearly falling over in the process. He attempted to fly across the play area but could only manage a haphazard, dozen-foot glide. I wondered if this bird had been hit by a car or fallen out of his nest as a baby.
He pecked at small, broken pieces of the blue foam, eventually dropping them from his open beak. As I watched him hobble around alone, searching for food, something inside me shriveled up like his damaged claw.
Why are there animals with gimpy feet and people who can’t walk?
Why must there be damaged things in Your beautiful creation?
God created me with a very sensitive heart. I live deeply – too deeply – taking in everything that I experience. Often I find myself shouldering a backpack filled with emotions, thoughts, and concerns that others can brush off and leave behind.
I don’t unpack emotional experiences easily. Good or bad, they linger in my soul and can scar if I don’t turn them over to my Savior. I’m so grateful to know the One whose “yoke is easy and His burden light,” and provides rest for my weary soul. (Matthew 11:29-30).
As I watched the crippled Grackle hobble around, I wondered about brokenness. The world is highlited with examples of brokenness within the human population as well as throughout the animal kingdom. God’s Word tells us ‘why’ – we live in an imperfect, sin-coated, broken world right now, a world that’s currently in the “bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21).
Even though my mind understands this, my heart has a more difficult time accepting pain and suffering. That hot afternoon I couldn’t help but lift a desperate prayer heavenward – the created crying out to its Creator.
Why, Lord? Why brokenness?
My gaze fell back on Gimpy as he hobbled alone, feathers askew and crippled foot curled up.
Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? ~ Matthew 6:26
God’s answer flew in gracefully, landing a couple feet from hobbling Grackle. The two brown birds were nearly the same size, and I saw something sticking out of the new arrivals’s long, dark brown beak.
In a matter of seconds the desperate situation of the gimpy Grackle turned around as its feathered friend shoved something yummy into its beak. Gimpy eagerly accepted the meal and hobble-skipped closer to his bird friend.
I didn’t know, but as I watched them huddle together among the water madness that afternoon, I soaked in the beautiful answer from my faithful God.
But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
~ 1 John 3:17 & 18
In a broken and damaged world, those who claim Christ as Savior and follow Him in their lives are called to meet needs and fill hungry beaks.