Lined up on my back fence was a male cardinal and three fledglings. He was busy feeding them one by one as he’d fly off to find food and return to continue his meal time duties. The whole scene was lovely except for one glaring abnormality – one of his babies was obviously not a cardinal.
Two of them were sporting their little red-feathered wings but the third one was brown and beige. One phone call to my sister, who had been into birding far longer than I had, and the mystery was solved. The Brown-headed Cowbird had been up to his dirty tricks, again. He’s a beautiful black bird with an iridescent brown head with a lovely set of tunes but he has a few nasty habits.
The Cowbird is lazy. Instead of building their own nest for their babies, they find another songbird’s comfy nest, kick out some or all of the eggs they find, lay their own and fly away. The poor unsuspecting, hardworking Cardinals ,in this case, returns to their nest, sits on the eggs and once hatched, feeds and nurtures them as their own.
Sometimes I think we are a little more like a Cowbird than the lovely Cardinal. Just recently, one of my own bad habits came to light. I was visiting with a close friend and she was filling me in on a very exciting development in her career. It truly is outstanding and she had lots to share. Afterwards, I asked if she wanted to hear my good news as well. “Of course,” she said,”I just don’t usually get to share first.” I didn’t say anything about it, but that really caught my attention and made me think, ‘Do I always share first?’ ‘Have I created a not-to-nice habit of ‘me first’ when I talk with my friends?’ Later that evening, I brought it before the Lord and then apologized to my friend.
Our friends, like the sweet Cardinals stay with us even though we have a nasty habit or two (or three). The Brown-headed Cowbird won’t be changing his habits any time soon, that is the way he is. But we aren’t like that, we don’t have to stay stuck in our bad habits, our sin. We can ask the Lord, like King David did in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a learn heart O God, and renew a steadfast spirit in me.” And if we don’t notice our ‘nasty habits’ ourselves we can go to Him asking, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” Psalm 139:23-24 NASB. Since we know God is always faithful, He will, indeed, show us what needs to go and then clean us up, one more time.
If you are like me and one of your not-so-nice habits has recently come to light, take time now and bring it before the Lord and ask Him to clean you up. And, if you’re like me, go ahead and ask Him to show you the other things that need to go that are still hiding in our habits. We may never be as beautiful as the Cardinal or Cowbird but our inner beauty will shine with the light of Christ.