The Hummingbird Feeder: A Parable of Grace

Christians all over the world observe Lent to remember the events that led up to Easter Sunday, particularly Holy Week. As I prepare for and reflect on this time, I am reminded of a story representing humanity's response to God's saving grace.

Jay E. Adams writes that he has a hummingbird feeder in his backyard that he keeps filled with sugar water. The feeder has four openings from which birds may drink. Yet, day after day, from early morning until dusk, one bird chases all the others away.

"As I said," Adams writes, "there is room for four birds at a time, and fully that number attempt to feed. But the top bird, who now 'owns' the feeder, will not let them. All day long, he sits on the branch of a nearby apricot tree, guarding 'his' feeder and defying others to transgress on what he has established as 'his' territory.

"This ongoing slice of life confronts us throughout the day as green and red hummers streak across the yard, the king hummer in hot pursuit of an intruder. While the chase is on, others sneak a sip or two, only to be driven off when he returns.

"The whole business has become a sort of parable for our family. Here is an example of grace: I bought the feeder; I supply the sugar water. The birds do not earn it; they receive it all FREE. Yet, day after day, they fight over who may enjoy it."

In Adam's backyard, the bird feeder represents the abundant provision that God offers through God's grace. However, the birds who visit the feeder constantly fight over it, each one trying to keep the other birds from getting any food. This is similar to how people sometimes behave - we forget that everything good in our lives is a gift from God, and we start to feel proud, selfish, or envious. Adams writes, "Just as I am confronted daily with rivalry in my yard, even so, God is confronted daily with rivalry in God's yard."

Scripture affirms the depth of God's grace and calls us to respond with humility and gratitude. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) declares, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works so that no one can boast."

In a world that often places great emphasis on achievement and self-reliance, it can be challenging to understand the concept of receiving something freely without having to earn it. However, this is precisely what grace is all about - an act of kindness and generosity bestowed upon us out of love rather than something that we can earn through our efforts or merit. Salvation is a gift given by God, even though we don't deserve it.

As we journey through Holy Week, it's important to take a moment to reflect on God's immense grace shown through Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross. May we remember that despite our unworthiness, God offered redemption and reconciliation through God's Son, inviting all to partake in the richness of God's love and mercy. May we humbly recognize our shortcomings and strive to follow the selfless love and generosity of our Savior, embrace God's grace with gratitude, and extend it to others, embodying the spirit of humility and unity that defines true discipleship.

Pray with me: God, I am grateful for the gift of your unending grace, which has brought me salvation and reconciliation. Forgive me for the times when I have overlooked Your grace and instead indulged in selfish desires and pursuits. Grant me, Lord, the humility to acknowledge Your blessings and the wisdom to share them with others freely. In the salvific name of Christ, I pray. Amen.

Rev. Kay Dubuisson





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