Biography, Songs of Assent, Wheaton


National Park Service photo

As we drove up to our place on Lake Superior, we were greeted by a large raven who had taken dominion over the doorway.  He had found something to eat, and wasn’t yielding the ground without coaxing. Tenacious old bird.

And then, this morning, I read these amazing words of Jesus, “fear not, little flock, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).   I’ve always envisioned a rather pastoral scene, with sweetly grazing lambs and a kind, vigilant shepherd.  But this morning I looked back at the chapter, only to discover that the only “flock” in sight was a company of ravens (12:24).  They are scavengers—they don’t sow or reap or place their seed on deposit to collect interest.  And, as my sister points out, they are really loud and obnoxious—endowed with a similar tone of voice to mothers in our less “pastoral” moments.

So apparently the Father’s good pleasure doesn’t simply extend to relaxed, trusting herds of sheep, but to anxiety-prone coveys of ravens.  And he not only claims us, but comforts us: what else would be the point of Jesus telling them to “fear not,” if they weren’t afraid? 

I am so much more naturally like a raven than a lamb.   Whether the goal is food and clothes, the activities I want on a short vacation or the behavior of significant others, I am far more prone to grab and grasp than to release and wait.  “Let it be to me according to your word” once came swiftly to the lips of an in-graced maid.  May it continue to fight its way to the top of my more raven-prone soul.  Apparently the Father delights to give the kingdom to those of us who keep grasping even after we recognize that the truly great things can only be received as gift.

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