I admired his tenacity. The feeders were full. On the ground was a fresh and generous scattering of all their favorite treats. I grinned at this bird who decided to eat coneflower seeds, and he was willing to do what it took to get the best of them.
He knew I was out there because I spoke to him when he perched on the slender stem of the once vibrant wildflower. He cocked his head at me several times and seemed to look at me.
We were partners in a way. He worked. I snapped pictures. When I got in the house, I studied the photos, and something about him challenged the discouragement and doubt I’d allowed into my thoughts.
I was tempted to quit writing. And taking pictures. And all the work I love to do because sometimes it’s hard. Harder than I think I have the energy for. It wasn’t a pity party (I know because I’ve had many of those in the past – in fact, I could be this kind of party planner!).
The truth glared at me. After many years of striving, the results that seemed to matter most (bottom line/balance sheet kind of stuff) were firmly on the negative side and made me shudder. On paper, it didn’t make practical sense to keep going.
I knew a lesson was on the way because the memory of this bird would not let me go. He was so . . .
Even when it was harder and might not have made sense to the others enjoying the seeds from me, he would not quit until he’d reached his goal – a belly full of what the old coneflower had to offer.
He persevered and refused to give up.
I looked at the photos again and again.
When I did, the words and faith of a woman who encountered Jesus (Matthew 9:22b-21 NLT) snagged at my heart.
She touched the fringe of his robe, for she thought, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.”
This woman had been sick for years with no relief. Reaching out for the hem of his garment made no sense. It was socially and religiously risky for a woman to touch Him or His clothing. Besides, although she didn’t know this, He was on His way to raise a little girl from the dead.
Still, she reached . . . her circumstance tenuous and her faith tenacious.
Jesus turned around, and when he saw her he said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment. (Matthew 9:22 NLT)
The months since I took these pictures have been full of prayers and pondering. I thought the love for what I do might gently go away and He’d show me another thing or two to do — something that made more practical sense.
But God didn’t take anything away from me nor did He change my course. Instead, He used this woman and that goldfinch to teach me the value of a tenacious heart in my faith, my purpose, and my work.
Remembering the goldfinch, I realize God placed a new motive in my heart: to write, take pictures, and share them for the love of it. Now I have a new bottom line that makes perfect sense to me.
“Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.” -Louis Pasteur