“Hear my prayer, Lord; let my cry for help come to you. Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly. For my days vanish like smoke; my bones burn like glowing embers. My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food. In my distress I groan aloud and am reduced to skin and bones. I am like a desert owl, like an owl among the ruins. I lie awake; I have become like a bird alone on a roof”. Psalm 102:1-7
My initial thoughts on writing Comfort were of the happiness I feel when waking up holding my husband’s hand, or the enjoyment and solace I receive when walking into our home. As these thoughts swirled and developed, they picked up speed and detoured me to moments of trouble, when my heart, dreams or hopes were blighted and withered just like this psalmist laments, and realizing the comfort I received was supernatural.
An example of the Heavenly comfort God sends us, is described in the book “To Heaven and Back, a True Story” by Mary C. Neal, MD., Dr. Neal gives the example of a large and elegant grey owl that landed on deck railing adjacent to her breakfast area… how it would follow her and her mother as they moved room to room, always having concern only for them, staring at Mary insistently. “The bird clearly had something to say and, when I finally paid attention, I felt the owl urging me to go with my mother to North Carolina”. Our Great Creator didn’t end it there. A few days later, after an unexpected passing of a family member, these two ladies are drinking coffee again, this time at Mary’s mom’s breakfast table. A barren Bradford pear tree, which over the years had never produced a single blossom, was now filled beyond capacity with large, beautiful, perfect pink blossoms that stayed on the tree until well after frost have felled the blossoms of neighboring trees. (Chapter 21 entitled, My Beloved George).
The presence of God was with these women and is with us when we most need His supernatural comfort. From Heaven, not only does He want to be the director of our path, but to provide glimpses of himself and his goodness during our trials; he desires to walk alongside us.
A similar story occurred to my college housemate. The day after the passing of her husband, my friend and her sister were outside watching their children play. Suddenly an enormous white bird was hovering over the house. One sister thought it was an owl, the other questioned if it was a hawk. Regardless of variety, my friend shared, “I have never seen a bird fly so slowly… It was just hovering over our house, almost still. We saw the same bird 24-hours later, in our back yard this time. It flew over the kids on the swings; we all saw it. My 10-year-old nephew ran in and said, ‘did you see that bird skim our heads?’ As it flew over it said CAW-CAW right by my daughter’s head. If I was the only one who saw it, I would think I was hallucinating. But all of us did! Crazy. I think it was my husband checking on all of us”.
I’ve been reminded of this white bird many times over the past two years. I’ve reached out to friends who have strong knowledge of scripture to discuss it. Was this the Holy Spirit in the form of a white bird? Was it an angel? Was it a random bird playing with the children? Reading Dr. Neal’s owl story, I’m even more confident that our Lord uses His creation to nudge, comfort, and love us. In both of these situations, He used owl-like birds, which are pictures of loneliness and desolation. He knows what we are feeling and shows empathy to us. Yet, He also used the tree blossoming and the whiteness of the bird to convey His peace, love and presence.
I guess we shouldn’t be surprised by God’s use of birds; there are nearly 300 references in the Bible, with over 50 dedicated to the dove. In the Old Testament doves were symbolic of hope – think of the dove returning to Noah’s Ark with an olive leaf (Genesis 8:11), as well as love – read the romantic descriptions between King Solomon and his lover the Shulammite woman (Song of Songs 5:2, 5:12). In the New Testament, Jesus tells how God cares even for the birds of the air (Matthew 6:26). In the Gospels, the doves are symbolic of the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit), with the most memorable example when the dove descending on Jesus as he is baptized (Matthew 3:16 and Luke 3:22).
A final and personal story is of prophecy over my daughter and me. One of the visions shared was of doves sitting on each of our shoulders. The doves were so that we would KNOW God’s peace and His love in our lives. The prophetic prayer team asked that God would show us doves everywhere we looked in the upcoming weeks. And you know what? He did… everywhere! From flying right in front of our paths, landing on telephone lines above us, walking on our basketball court as we headed to the garage, random stops on our drive to swim practice, etc. We kept track and texted each other back and forth. It became a joyful game. We welcomed “our boys” (her dad and brother) into it too, and they shared their sightings. It was like a “Where’s Waldo” picture book, but with dove birds opening our eyes to the Spirit of God in our daily lives.
When you need comfort, instead of reaching for chocolate or comfy pajamas and the remote control, reach for your Heavenly Father. There might be an owl, dove or blossoming tree waiting to “talk” to you.
Please pray with me: Heavenly Father, please provide your supernatural peace and comfort to me. Remove my fear and anxieties and allow me to rest in you. You promise to take care of my needs and provide abundant life. I want more of you and less of this world. Help me seek you. I love you. (adapted from Matthew 6:25-26, John 10:10).
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