When You Can’t Fly: Learning To Meet People Where They Are

It was a beautiful Monday evening, as I headed outside for one of my favorite evening chores- watering my garden. There’s something about standing in the peaceful sunset moments and listening to the water sprinkle over the plants. It’s quiet. And no matter how hectic the day’s been, I can just be still for a minute.

As I approached the garden, I jumped back with a start at some movement in the dirt. I stepped closer again to see if it was a snake or mole. I was slightly relieved to see it was just a bird….a small bird, his head just swiveling around. He was kind of cute, so I named him Louie. He was injured, not flying away when he sensed my presence.

I felt a little bit sorry for Louie, but worked around him.  I love living in the country and all that comes with that, but when it comes to small animals of any kind, I have a husband for that. So went ahead and planted my row of beans, serenaded by his occasional tweets. 

As I started watering the plants, I was careful not to aim right at the little guy, but he inevitably caught a few sprinkles.  And Louie didn’t like it….at least his chirps seemed to say so! 

But suddenly, I heard a different set of chirps coming from a tree nearby, much more urgently. Another bird, very similar to Louie, swooped down toward the ground. He seemed focused on the injured bird. I shut off the hose and watched as the arrival, let’s say Sammy, hopped closer and closer to Louie. Eventually, they started pecking each other.

Finally, Sammy half flew-half hopped out of the garden, towards the safety of the grass. Louie, who hadn’t moved one inch since I’d been out there, started to follow Sammy, hopping out of the garden. He could move! I watched Sammy fly a little ways away, then circle back to chirp at Louie. Louie responded with a few more hops, still not able to fly, and the hopping obviously exhausting him. Sammy continued circling back, until Louie was safely in the grass.

As I watched these two little creatures interact, I couldn’t help but think how much we as humans can relate to them. Here was Louie. Down on his luck. Injured. Helpless against the enemy. And his buddy jumped right back in the danger with him to help him along. To help guide him to safety. How often do we do that for other people?

Even when it’s difficult, or it means getting a little bit dirty- do we value other people enough to jump back into harm’s way to help them? This doesn’t always mean physical danger. More often than not it’s quite the opposite. It may mean facing some ridicule or judgement. It may mean taking a stand on something that’s not super popular. It may mean eating some crow and admitting we are wrong when it hardest.

Poor little Louie was incapable of doing the one thing that birds are most known for. He couldn’t fly. How many times have I looked at another human being that God created and thought “I don’t know why I fool with her. She can’t even fill-in-the-blank like a normal person should.” She can’t reign in her emotions. She can’t control her kids. He can’t take ‘normal’ every day pressures. They can’t make decisions. She can’t take the advice everyone keeps giving her. She can’t chose her kids over alcohol. He can’t hold down a decent job. The list goes on.

It’s so easy to look at others and measure their value based on their ability to function as a basic human being. Then we can write them off and get out of helping because ‘they should be able to do that themselves.’.

But don’t we all have those things we should be able to do for ourselves? We all have a weaknesses that someone can look at and say ‘she really should be able to handle that better.”. But we can’t, and we don’t.

I remember feeling this sort of ineptitude as I dealt with depression in my life. “Everyone else can deal, and I just can’t. I’m not sure I should be allowed to do this adult life thing. It doesn’t seem to be this hard for other people.” I’d look at people who had way more complicated lives than mine and wonder how they emotionally dealt with it, when I could barely hold on to mine. It was a hopeless place to be.

But there is always hope. Romans 5:6 says “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” Every human is helpless without Jesus. He momentarily set aside His rights as almighty God of the universe to hop over to us to meet us on our human terms, when we were incapable of flying. And He did more than encourage us out of harm’s way. He jumped in front of us and took the bullet for us, even though He could have easily lifted a wing and flown out of the way.

If Jesus can do that for us, why can’t we stoop down and help those who are struggling?  We need to meet them on their level, and not mock them for not being able to fly, but encourage them to do what they are capable of and hop out with them.  

Who do you need to hop over to, offer some help? Who have you had a judgemental attitude toward that you need to repent of and maybe seek forgiveness?

Maybe you feel as helpless as Louie today. Even when you can’t find a Sammy, don’t forget that there is a very real Jesus who did more than Sammy could ever do for you, and who will never pull back His outstretched hand.

Your thoughts?