Expectations and a Reliable God
It was time. Nothing had prompted me to pull my camera out with its big lense until the last day of our trip to Historic Williamsburg. . . and we walked.
We walked through the gunmaker’s store where we learned there was a 12 year wait for a reproduction rifle like one George Washington used.
We walked through the coffee house where Colonial Politics was discussed over cups of coffee, tea and hot cocoa. We even sampled some.
We walked through the church where, though not members, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and others went to pray – as each bore the heavy mantle of leadership in our nation’s battle for freedom.
I walked with expectation knowing that God had something for me to capture with my camera, a blessing – a blessing carrying a message. All blessings come with messages – did you know that?
A reliable God meets us in our expectations. In the meeting, though, how He fulfills those expectations is often not what we expected, but ever so much better and exactly what our hearts really wanted, though our minds did not know, so small is the knowledge of our minds compared to His.
It wasn’t in the fields with the horses. I was seconds behind every good opportunity.
I was hoping it was the lambs. I’ve always wanted to capture a lamb photo that just went straight to the heart. But the blessing God had for me wasn’t in the lamb field.
The palace gardens were beautiful – and the maze was a source of joy to all who entered and those who watched on the rising. . . but it wasn’t in the gardens or the maze, either.
As we wound our way through the backyard paths of this historic little town, the blessing flew right over us, landing in a tree. I felt it happen but didn’t see. My husband, did, though, and pointed it out: A hawk.
A Cooper Hawk landed in the tree beside our path, his back to us. It was as though he’d come just for us, just for me. My husband watched for a moment and walked on. Knowing how the chickadees, house finches, tufted titmouses, nuthatches and sparrows twitter away at the slightest ripple, I stayed back, hesitant, calming my excitement to carefulness. . . checking and rechecking what I’d caught on camera. Then I cautiously stepped forward, step by still step.
He behaved graciously, patiently, turning his head this way and that way, as though this was part of his Sunday afternoon leisurely fly about. After some minutes, unsure of Hawk-photo-shoot protocol, I felt I was keeping Mr. Cooper Hawk, too long, and walked, barely breathing, with soft, still steps, reluctant to leave such a beautiful, surprising blessing, whose company I had so enjoyed – just letting him be him.
A pathway revealed itself on the other side of an overgrown snowball bush that led around to the front of where he perched, enjoying the view into the surrounding gardens.
I took a chance that there was more to this blessing than the backside view of a Cooper Hawk. I stepped out into the path in front of Him. It was a bold move. I imagine it’s how one would feel after seeing the king partially from afar, an unnoticed feeling, safety in being behind the crowd, even though he may look your way, but to step boldly in the king’s path where he cannot help but see you. It’s a commitment to intent. The woman with the issue of blood was content to hide within the crowd, to approach Jesus from behind, hoping that he wouldn’t see her unworthiness. Yes, she was healed by his touch, but the grace came when she was directly in front of him, pinned beneath his gaze. She was seen by her Savior and carried not just his healing, but his redeeming love away with her.
How many opportunities do we miss because we feel greedy to step into God’s more? How often do we settle into the shadows of our faith experiencing only a fraction of the blessing when our Savior has provided the whole?
Mr. Cooper Hawk continued sitting calmly, regally, a bird who had his time well in hand. I took photo after photo until I bent my head to look at my camera view. Something whirred past my right shoulder and head. Mr. Cooper Hawk had glided inches away from me to a limb right behind me. I turned to watch him, surprised – surprised that he’d come so close to me, surprised that he hadn’t taken off because I’d dared step directly in front of him.
I think I could have sat on a bench and watched him all evening. . . but that would have been over-staying my welcome.
. . . my spirit recognized that our visit was over, even though there was opportunity for more photos, it was time. . . time to walk on, time to put my camera away, and ready to go home – and time to think on the message God sent me in the blessing of Mr. Cooper Hawk.
On our long drive home, I researched hawks – their lore, their symbolism. I found myself dismayed – the hawk preys after the bird of peace, the dove. It symbolizes war, intelligent, kills its prey with its talons, not its beak. Its vision is 8 times greater than yours or mine (The Raptor Trust).
Sometimes I need help unlocking the messages God gives me. Looking over my photos, my husband noticed one important detail. Can you find what’s missing in this picture?
What is missing is the key to unlock the message. Mr. Cooper Hawk has only one leg, only one set of talons for survival.
The first message unlocked a warning not to assume. Initially, I’d only had a partial view of who Mr. Cooper Hawk was from the backside. I didn’t have the full view, all the information – just a tag to define: A Hawk. A bird who preys upon birds of peace. Regal, Kingly, One who Sees-More-of-What’s-Going-on-Than-I-Can. His feathers gave him his name. I defined him by how others defined him, by stereotypes. I was so taken with Who He Is that I didn’t note something as obvious as Mr. Cooper Hawk’s missing leg.
He is a more holistic creature than an Ornithological Identification. The second message was about the circumstances that shape an individual during a lifetime – that the condition to which we are born is not the condition to which we must die. Hawks, according to The Raptor Trust, can kind and gentle. Mr. Cooper Hawk, of Colonial Williamsburg, was kind, patient, welcoming. Possibly, his challenges shaped his character. Missing one claw with three talons has surely changed how he interacts with the animal community – and the human community. Possibly, he has found that kindness and gentleness are better providers than predatory behavior.
His challenge has forced him to reconsider his relationships with those in his community, and, as a result, he treats them differently. A bird of prey learning about grace through the hard challenges of the daily. He gave me grace with his time, his calmness and companionship. Would he have learned to behave this way without the challenges that shaped him? A hawk is a bird of prey. It is not a merciful bird. This is a one-legged hawk, a one-clawed hawk. How can he capture a mouse, a rabbit, his dinner with one claw. Are we like this warrior bird, needing harsh challenges to change our behaviors and thought-processes to become more Christ-like? More Grace-filled? What does it take to shape a soul for Christ?
The third message was that sometimes we need the insight of others to see the blessings God has given us. It took my husband to point out Mr. Cooper Hawk and then to point out he was a one-legged hawk. I would have missed so much if I hadn’t been willing to listen, if I hadn’t been willing to understand that I don’t always see what needs seeing.
I am thankful that God wants us to expect to meet Him in the day – that He wants us to boldly step into what He has planned for us. What a gracious Father I have who would surprise me with a visit with Mr. Cooper Hawk! What an attentive Father we have, who listens and leaves messages for us wrapped in blessings. What a wise Father we have who surrounds us with people who help us see more of Him.
I picked up my camera with expectation that God had a blessing that held a message for me that day. A hawk was something I’d never have imagined, but God did. Are you walking into your day with expectation that God has a blessing for you, one with a message designed just for you?
A reliable God always meets us in our expectations. . . and takes us beyond them!
“Am I prepared to let God grip me by His power and do a work in me that is worthy of Himself? Sanctification is not my idea of what I want God to do for me; sanctification is God’s idea of what He wants to do for me, and He has to get me into the attitude of mind and spirit where at any cost I will let Him sanctify me wholly.” ~ Oswald Chambers
Remember Me Monday: #80 & Link-up
“I’ll make a list of God’s gracious dealings,
all the things God has done that need praising,
All the generous bounties of God,
his great goodness to the family of Israel—
. love extravagant.”
~ Isaiah 63:7, The Message
In the Old Testament, God repeatedly, quietly and loudly, tells his children, “You have forgotten me!” (Jeremiah 3:32, Ezekiel 22:12, to name a few). It’s a heart cry from a father to a child who has forgotten all the love, all the saving, helping, little and big blessings – and it leaves me stunned when I realize our Father, the creator of the universe, who knows things I cannot begin to fathom, who authors storylines that leave me amazed, delights in all of us so much, He cries out, “Remember Me.”
While every day is a Remember God Day, I am inviting you to join me on Monday mornings to come by and remember what God has done for you, for your family. Maybe God sent a cardinal darting out in front of you, as if to tell you, “I’m here,” or broke a child’s fever after you laid it all down at His feet in a 2 a.m. bedside vigil. Maybe He stood with you in the wait of a prayer sent out, or brought someone you loved to Christ. Maybe He healed your broken heart, gave your courage, or you gave Him your dreams as a love offering only to have Him give them back in an unimaginable way. Maybe God helped you survive to bedtime after a crazy Monday, or forgive yourself for missing it with your kiddos –– Whatever it is, let’s Remember Him. . . in a “Remember Me Monday” love letter.
“My mouth will tell of your righteousness,
Of your salvation all the day long,
Though I know not its measure.
I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign Lord”
~ Psalm 71:15-16.
Let us delight in Him by telling the stories of what He’s done! If you wrote a blog post remembering what He’s done for you, join the linky. If you didn’t but still want to praise Him for what He’s done – write it in the comment section. Then visit a comment before or after yours! One of the beautiful things about the blogging community is the relationships it builds!
Rules? Write long or short, a list or a story, include photos or not. Just Remember Him and what He has done, and let the gratitude of your heart guide you. Let’s make Monday so Rejoice, that the goodness of God spills into the rest of the week!
Places I’m Linking at This Week:
Inspire Me Monday, Instaencouragements,
Legacy Link-Up, Recharge Wednesday
Faith on Fire, Tell His Story, Grace&Truth
Let’s Have Coffee Wednesday Celebrate Your Story
Scripture&Snapshot, Sunday Scripture Blessings
Sweet Tea & Friends Monthly Link-up
Maryleigh, your photos are stunning! This post is powerful. This question >> “How often do we settle into the shadows of our faith experiencing only a fraction of the blessing when our Savior has provided the whole?” I fear sometimes I do miss all God has for me. This >> “The third message was that sometimes we need the insight of others to see the blessings God has given us.” Amen! I’m grateful God places people in my life to help me see more of Him and today He used you!
Praying we both see the blessings and the messages within the blessings, Joanne! The photos were an amazing blessing from God! I never expected a Hawk! What a God of surprises we have!
What a beautiful way to capture God’s heart and our needed response, Maryleigh. He is so kind to us, “A reliable God meets us in our expectations. In the meeting, though, how He fulfills those expectations is often not what we expected, but ever so much better and exactly what our hearts really wanted, though our minds did not know.”
The God who walked with Adam and Eve in the evening in the garden is the same kind God who meets us in our walks, in our expectations. He is such a worthy God!
Such beautiful pictures and insight, Maryleigh! I love it when God sends us blessings with messages custom-made for us.
Thank you, Carlie – every day – He sends us blessings! Every day, my friend! What an amazing Father!
Maryleigh, what a profound message. I am pondering all you’ve shared. I have too many thoughts to try to put to words right now. Thank you for allowing the Lord to speak to me through your words. And your photos . . . wowowow. They are stunning. It’s kind of amazing when God prompts an animal to just stay put so we can enjoy them and hear from Him. He did that with a butterfly for me this summer. 🙂
Butterflies are such beautiful message carriers – and to capture them on a camera – what a gift from God! So many beautiful layers to the messages He sends us!
Your photos are so beautiful. Amazing how this bird coped with one leg. And I love how you said, “How often do we settle into the shadows of our faith experiencing only a fraction of the blessing when our Savior has provided the whole?” Wow! That’s something good to reflect on. It’s been years since I visited Williamsburg, VA. Such a lovely and historic town. Visiting from Tell His Story.
Karen, I’ve been trying to figure out if he can catch a mouse with one leg – and, if he has learned to balance in that effort – or if he is now a vegan? He looks quite healthy, so however he is coping is successful! This was our second trip to Williamsburg – and God had so many surprises in store!
I love your story and photos! I often go out taking pictures expecting God to give me a special message through the photos he gives me in nature. I could easily imagine being in your shoes as I read this! I love how your husband helped you receive the message and how you learned from that. Beautiful…
God never fails to meet us when we set out to meet Him! After 39 years of marriage, I have learned to value and listen, also, to the wisdom and insight of my husband – and what an impact that makes, too! How good is our God!
I need to sit and watch hawks more often. They are magnificent creatures. If you hadn’t invited me to slow down and look, I would have missed that this hawk was missing a leg. Love this: “How many opportunities do we miss because we feel greedy to step into God’s more?” Thanks for your beautiful reflections, Maryleigh. They always touch me.
I’m so glad you slowed down and looked! Thank you for your kind encouragement! Shalom, friend! ~ Maryleigh
Maryleigh, great job! This is a wonderful post that spoke to me on so many levels. First, I loved this line: “How many opportunities do we miss because we feel greedy to step into God’s more?” Love the phrase, “God’s more.” He has more for me? More than I’ve imagined? More than my highest ambition? More than I deserve? (That’s actually the crux of the matter.)
Then, don’t know if you were being prophetic, but how did you know I needed to read this TODAY? “I don’t always see what needs seeing.” We need the insight of others because it really is how God made us. Each one sees things from a perspective I don’t have, and then when it is shared (like in a blog post) I am richer for having my eyes opened. The writer is blessed because she shared. And God smiles because His children are helping one another.
Oh, Jerralea, you’ve made me weepy – I love how you have advanced the discussion – Yes! More than we’ve imagined. More than our highest ambition – though whatever it is – whether to the world’s view or ours – the designed fulfillment fills us more than our highest ambition. Always more than we deserve! We are each so blessed with how we encourage each other! Thank you, my friend! Bless you!