Sacrament of Broken Seed

Titus 3:3-8

Chances are running high that you’re in a hurry today. Am I right? Your “To Do” list stretches on and on. If you’re reading this in the morning, you’re wondering how in the world you’ll get it all done. If the day has already slipped away as you read these words, you’re wondering where in the world the hours went.

Yeah, I can identify. It’s been that kind of week. Really, that kind of month. But let’s take five and ponder a word that gets overlooked in the midst of a breakneck schedule. Just a simple word . . . helping.

Think about that. About being of assistance . . . your arm around the hunched shoulder of another . . . your smile saying “try again” to someone who’s convinced it’s curtains . . . your cup of cool water held up to a brother’s cracked lips, reassuring and reaffirming.

Every time I pick up my pen, the thought of helping urges me to push ink into words. There are enough—more than enough—specialists in body blocks and pass defense and tackling those with the ball, causing fumbles, bruises, and injuries. I’d much rather run interference. Open up holes. Slap some fanny and say, “You can do it, now git at it!” I couldn’t agree more with Philip Yancey, a man who models his own advice:

C. S. Lewis once likened his role as a Christian writer to an adjective humbly striving to point others to the Noun of truth. For people to believe that Noun, we Christian writers must improve our adjectives.

Whether in the sweltering heat of summer or during winter’s bitter blast, I’d like to think that some carefully selected turn of a phrase, some pointed story, even the choice of a single word I used reached over to your hand with a grip of fresh hope. The Noun is so attractive, so satisfying, we dare not get sloppy with our adjectives.

It’s all part of helping folks “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering . . . ” and being committed to “stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:23–24).

I hope that the following poem will stimulate you to reach beyond the safe bounds of your private, fenced-off territory. It’s called “At the Winter Feeder,” a perceptive piece by John Leax, professor of English and poet-in-residence at Houghton College:

His feather flame doused dull
by icy cold,
the cardinal hunched
into the rough, green feeder
but ate no seed.
Through binoculars I saw
festered and useless
his beak, broken
at the root.
Then two: one blazing, one gray,
rode the swirling weather
into my vision
and lighted at his side.
Unhurried, as if possessing
the patience of God,
they cracked sunflowers
and fed him
beak to wounded beak
choice meats.
Each morning and afternoon
the winter long,
that odd triumvirate,
that trinity of need,
returned and ate
their sacrament
of broken seed.1

If birds had souls, I have no doubt that that cardinal would, long before springtime, yield to the God of his friends. Attractive adjectives plus unselfish verbs equal faith in the Noun of truth.

It’s an axiom that holds true at the winter feeder and at any season of the year.

  1. “At the Winter Feeder,” copyright © 1985 by John Leax. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.

Excerpt taken from Come Before Winter and Share My Hope, copyright © 1985, 1988, 1994 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission. For additional information and resources visit us at www.insight.org.

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