One of my favorite books as a child was, Are You My Mother?, by P.D. Eastman. In the story, a baby bird hatches while his mother is away from the nest. He falls to the ground and immediately begins to search for her, but doesn’t know what she looks like. The little hatchling meets several animals, and even a few machines, and asks each of them, “Are you my mother?” Finally, the baby bird is returned to the nest–just as his mom arrives with a worm.
The Bible has a version of this story. In the final days of His earthly life, Jesus returns to Jerusalem just before Passover. He’s overcome with emotion when the city comes into view and says this:
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often have I longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate.Matthew 23:37
The Israelites had ‘left the nest’ yet again, and were not seeking to return. Time after time in the Bible we find God’s people asking everything they see, “Are you my daddy?” And, just like the baby bird in the story, they have NO IDEA of their REAL predicament. When Jesus says, “Look, your house is left to you desolate,” He refers to the ultimate destruction of the temple in Jerusalem (in 79 AD) and God’s rejection of His people (Jeremiah 12:7).
Isn’t idolatry (even in ignorance) still a problem today? It’s easy to stray from the nest. And Christians are not immune to the lure of the three S’s: sin, self, and stuff.
A recent devotional in, Our Daily Bread, highlights the tendency to trust in just-in-case idols. The old hymn, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, becomes Leaning on the Ever-lesser Arms, when we trust in our own intelligence, abilities, or possessions more than God.
Nevertheless, a loving Father awaits the return of all stray hatchlings to the nest.
He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge.Psalm 91:4