This morning I was sitting in the faculty lounge making final preparations for the class I was about to teach. Suddenly I heard a thump at the window and looked up to see a bird trying to get through the window and into the lounge. Thankfully, it didn’t hit the window so hard that it injured itself, but it was determined to penetrate that window. It would try to get in, then stop and sit on the sill, then try again. Then it would take a break and fly to the nearest tree for a minute or two. I would go back to work…until I heard another thump. This went on for a good fifteen minutes.
It was very clear to me that there was no way that bird was going to get in the lounge. And to tell you the truth, I couldn’t see why it would want to. It is a very comfortable lounge…for a human being. But it was totally lacking in what would be necessities for a bird. No food, no water, no fresh air. In all likelihood, if the bird somehow did get through the window, it would soon—if not immediately—begin frantically attempting to get back into the outdoors where it would at least have a chance to flourish. The bird’s persistence was admirable, but futile. I couldn’t help but think of the time and energy it was wasting trying to get somewhere it was never intended to go.
The bird’s maneuvers got me thinking about my own occasional machinations. Sometimes I look through a window and see a situation that I, in all my wisdom, think would be just right for me. Or sometimes I am in a situation that seems completely wrong for me, so it doesn’t really matter what is on the other side of the glass; anything has got to be better than where I am now. So I doggedly pursue what I see through the glass, having no true understanding of what is really going on in that seemingly ideal scenario.
God, on the other hand, knows even the smallest nuance of everything that is going on in my current situation, as well as everything that is occurring on the other side of the glass. He is intimately aware of everything about me, my abilities, my needs, and my dreams. He wants only the best for me and will often thwart my efforts to get somewhere I was never intended to go.
In Mark 10:35-40, James and John have decided that it would be good for them to sit in Jesus’ glory, one on his right and one on his left. They request this of Jesus, and his first response is that they have no idea what they are asking. Their ambitions cause them to pursue an aim whose cost is way beyond what they could possibly imagine or understand. When Job questions the situation in which he finds himself, God does not end up answering Job’s questions. Rather, God points out, through asking a series of questions of Job, that Job has very limited understanding both in general and of God’s ways, purposes, and plans, in particular. Paul puts it this way: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12).
How many times do I have to run into that glass wall before I catch on that the world on the other side of the glass is not the best place for me to be? It is not a place where I can flourish and experience all God has for me. My perspective is severely limited. What will it take for me to choose to turn my back on that glass window and all that is beyond it, choosing instead to continue to trust that God will lead me to a place of flourishing if I let go of my limited vision and instead hold fast to the one who knows me fully? May God in his mercy save me from bashing one too many times into that window and ending up in a heap on the ground!
Photo: Bird Imprint on Window