He didnít say anything at all about it when he first arrived home from school that day. In fact, it was an hour or so later when Matt finally opened up and shared what had happened.
When he ambled into the room where Kylie and I were having our usual after school/pre-dinner chat, I never expected the conversation to take the turn that it did. Although I know my son has a very tender heart, itís something thatís usually kept quite well hidden at home Ė particularly when it comes to the way he acts with his sister. Still, heís shown it on enough occasions for me to be very aware that, like Kylie, Matt doesnít quite fit the "typical teenager" stereotype.
To be honest, Iím not quite sure what triggered the subject right there and then, although knowing my two children, it didnít have to relate to any other part of the discussion. Both of them are adept at introducing new topics without waiting for the previous one to finish - usually to the great annoyance of their mid-conversation sibling.
Without preamble, Matt told us the story of what had happened on the trip home that afternoon. Although my grasp of the details wasnít totally clear it seemed that the school bus had accidentally hit a little bird and then, as the driver had pulled over to let a group of children off, had crushed the fragile creature even more under the weight of the tyres.
ďI looked out the back window and that little bird was an awful mess.Ē
As Matt spoke, the feelings that had risen up within him at the time came rushing back to the surface and he looked sadly toward the floor before continuing. ďMan, I just had to put my head down and force myself not cry.Ē
Then another memory came flooding back, causing him to shake his head in disbelief and say, ďAll the kids that were getting off and some of the ones still on the bus were laughing and making a big joke about it. It was really horrible. How could they do that?Ē
For a minute or two we talked about what had happened and why the other children may have acted the way they did. Then Kylie lightened the mood, as only she can, by saying something which changed the subject and made us laugh. With that, the topic of conversation closed and each of us headed off to do whatever needed to be done before dinner.
As Kylie and Matt left the room, I thought about what my son had just said. I guess many would have, understandably, shrugged it off as fairly inconsequential - after all, it was only a bird. No big deal when compared to the amount of suffering and hardship that so many are facing in the world today.
Yet there was something about Mattís words and attitude that left me feeling as though Iíd been given a very precious glimpse of something exquisitely beautiful.
It was far more than the opportunity of seeing his tender heart emerge from that rough diamond exterior once again.
It was even more than the reassurance that in spite of my occasional concerns, he was in fact, growing up into a fine young man.
No, even though both these things are a great blessing to any mother, my feeling had much more to do with the fact that in that one brief flash Iíd been privileged to see the smallest part of the Fatherís heart.
The compassion I heard in Mattís voice toward a weaker and more vulnerable creature was just a tiny example of the incredible love God has toward us. Yet how often do we make the mistake of thinking that the Creator of all things couldnít possibly be interested in the life of anyone as insignificant as ourselves? From our point of view, itís fairly understandable as to why we may think that way. After all, would the Queen of England care about us individually and take time to answer our calls? Not likely! So itís easy to see why we could feel that Almighty God would be the same.
However, our God isnít like us. He isnít bound by the limitations of time and space, and he isnít bound to the physical restrictions of a human body. Even more importantly, He isnít bound to the limitations we set on what we believe Heís capable of doing. As the Apostle Paul wrote, God is ďable to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.Ē (Ephesians 3:20a NIV)
The simple and overwhelming truth is that our Heavenly Father cares for us more than we may ever comprehend and all we have to do is trust Him.
Jesus made this point very clear when He said:
The life of one little bird. Itís really not much in the big scheme of things. In fact itís really not worth a great deal at all. Yet the wonder is that God cares for even this very small part of His creation, and He also cares about us.
When bad things happen, the enemy probably will laugh at our suffering with malicious glee, but we donít have to listen to him. There is Another watching over us with eyes of compassion and mercy, just waiting to hear our cry for help. Then, in the midst of our pain, He reaches down to our outstretched hands and lifts us straight into the security of His everlasting arms of love.
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