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Cardinal Call


You may not know this about me, but I love cardinals. Regardless of the season, you can catch me scanning the treetops, searching for their bright presence. And to me, they’re not just pretty red birds. God and I have a special thing going on with cardinals: for me, cardinals are like Jesus. In fact, whenever I see or hear one, I can’t help but smile and whisper “hi Jesus”. Now, before you call me crazy, let me explain. It all started when I went to college.


I was having a very difficult time and I often walked along a nature trail, just to try to find some solace. One particular autumn evening, I was not okay, very not okay. I’m talking blaring worship music in my ears while sobbing, desperately trying to tune out the darkness running rampant in my head. As I was quite literally crying out to God, I looked up and saw a serene red bird perched along the edge of the path. And I knew, instantly, that Jesus sent that bird for me. Peace flooded my mind as He reassured me that everything would be alright, that He was in control (and everything did work out, but that’s another story entirely). I don’t know why He spoke so strongly to me through a bird, but I know that He did. So, ever since my encounter two years ago, cardinals have become symbols of Christ— bright red like the shedding of His blood, present in all seasons and trials, vibrant and life-giving in our dark world.


Maybe now you understand the depth behind my cardinal drawing (titled Adore). Because not only is Christ seen through the bird’s color and potent presence, but also in the cardinal’s persevering pursuit of his mate. Have you ever seen these birds interact in early spring? Be on the lookout for them, because what I’ve seen is pretty amazing. So what have I seen (as I stared out the kitchen window, frozen in place so I wouldn’t startle them)?


The female, the Bride, sits alone on a tree branch. A flash of fiery red swoops in and lands on a branch on the same tree. Ever-so-patiently, he flutters and hops to nearby branches, gradually getting closer to her. He catches her eye, and when she doesn’t fly away, he accepts her invitation. He lands on her branch and settles close, giving his full heart to her. Doesn’t this sound like Christ? Patiently pursuing us, going slow as to not overwhelm us. But wow, is He ever devoted, totally in love with us, and completely ecstatic when we invite him into our hearts and lives!? He cherishes us, He adores us! This is Jesus, our Jesus. And don’t even get me started about what happens when another bird tries to take away the cardinal’s mate… He is relentless, fighting with all His strength, all-powerful and invincible, refusing to lose His beloved Bride. He is so good; He is ours and we are His.


What a blessing He has offered to us, if only we receive Him. So take a look outside, friends, and search for that flash of red, that reminder of Christ and His eternal love for us. And as you read this poem, yet another layer to my Christ-cardinal analogy, let His presence soak into your souls, and let Him lead you home:


Cardinal Call


A flash of red

Soared past my gaze,

Stark against

Deep greens.

Bold calls rang out

From the treetop,

Taunting me like a game

Of hide and seek.


Suddenly He swoops again,

A brushstroke of vermillion,

His cardinal call

Beckoning me

To follow, to proudly soar,

To be the bright red

In a world of faded greens.


But green has been replaced

By gray now,

Bleak skies, treetops

A skeletal brown.


But still I seek

And still I find

That cheery red flash,

Life amongst the grays.


And I hear His call—

To follow, soar,

Proclaim life and love,

Hope.

To present

A ruby red gift

To our tired and weary world.



Pause and Ponder: What is God speaking to you today? How does He reveal Himself to you? Look outside, see the wonderous shades of spring, and give thanks-- give thanks to the One who calls us to praise, sing, and soar, who shed His blood so we may live in perfect harmony with Him. What a gift.

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