Monday, August 22, 2011

Gentle Dove

Saturday as I was preparing to take a load of willow logs to the landfill, I noticed a mourning dove sitting in the street about a foot from the curb. It simply sat and did not move. I approached and it still did not move. Was it alive? Yes, but very weak.

I thought: “You’ll be killed if you stay there.” So I gently picked it up and moved it to the grass in our yard. But it barely had strength to stand erect. So I thought, “Maybe you need some water.”

I gently picked it up to carry to the makeshift birdbath that I keep in our backyard. It is a tin flat dog water bowl that I use to provide water to the birds and squirrels and other critters that frequent our back yard. It did become very frightened this time but quickly gave up fighting and fluttering.

The poor thing was too weak even to hold its head high enough for this source of water, so I filled a flower pot base with water and propped the dove beside it.

When I returned later in the day, it had regained enough strength to move part way around the trunk of the tree. It opened its eyes more frequently and looked more alert. It did not respond as though it feared me, but simply looked up at me.

Later I needed to cut the grass. So I placed the dove in an open cardboard box and moved it temporarily to our deck. The mower did frighten it and it moved out onto the deck, but was safe from my activities. Later I moved it back into the box and to the tree.

I kept hoping that it could survive till the next morning and possibly have recovered from its sickness enough to fly to safety. If only the other creatures would permit this.

At 11:00 pm the little dove was still there and again I hoped that it would be safe.

Sunday morning I checked again.

I still feel very sad.

Such is the way in this old world corrupted by the sin of Adam, inherited by myself and all of humanity. All of creation moans and groans under the burden to the curse that God placed on the soil for our sake. Little instances like this one are painful reminders that sin truly does equal death. The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23a) There is no escaping this fact. Nothing that we can do can change this. Nothing.

However, the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23b)

What a powerful contrast! What a wonderful declaration! The wages, that which we earn by our actions, is death. But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord! What we earn and deserve is not what God gives. Rather, He has earned and purchased for us an everlasting gift, Life! He bestows this wondrous gift freely, without charge, without requirement. He pours it out to us with the gift of His Holy Spirit in the waters of Baptism. He renews this gift as He comes to us in the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Absolutely nothing is required of us. Even the faith that causes us to believe is His gift through the preaching of the Gospel in connection with Baptism.

So I could not save the little dove. Yet the Holy Spirit, who has manifested Himself as a dove, has saved me. He comes as gently as that little mourning dove, except not in weakness but with great power. Though He works gently, He presses His way into my heart and into my thoughts and breaks the barrier of my hardened heart and crushes the resistance of my will so that His peace triumphs and rules my heart. This He does for all true believers. First He makes believers of them and then He continually calls them to repent of their own thoughts, words, and deeds, things that earn the wages of death, and gives to them instead the merits of Christ, which restore life everlasting.

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1 comment:

Gary Cepek said...

"By grace I'm saved, grace free and boundless; my soul, believe and doubt it not. Why stagger at this word of promise? Has Scripture ever falsehood taught? Nay; then this word must true remain; by grace thou, too, shalt heaven obtain. ... By grace! On this I'll rest when dying; in Jesus' promise I rejoice for though I know my heart's condition, I also know my Savior's voice. My heart is glad, all grief has flown, since I am saved by grace alone." TLH 373:1,7
Thanks again, Pastor Siems, for the sound devotions and sermons which preach God's Law, slaying sinners like me, and God's Gospel in Christ, granting life to the dead by grace alone, through faith alone.

Gary Cepek