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I get a huge amount of pleasure from watching the birds feed in my garden. I put food and water out for the birds daily and observe them from the kitchen window. I know that starlings prefer mealworms, while pigeons and doves love sunflower seeds. The smaller birds particularly like the suet pellets, although the magpies love these too. The finches are the politest of the birds, taking a sunflower seed at a time, biting it in two, and eating slowly. I am amazed at the intelligence shown by some birds, especially the way in which the starlings have found a way to extract food from a feeder designed for smaller birds. I am amazed that some birds are happy to drink the water I have put out after the blackbirds have bathed in it.

Although I am the provider of food the only way I see this acknowledged by the birds is that they are usually waiting in the bushes or on the tree for me to appear bearing gifts. They almost always wait until I go back into the house before they fly down onto the steps to feed. This morning the starlings were so eager to feed that they descended en-masse while I was still filling a water container. I stood as still as I could just a couple of feet away from the starlings as they fed, and watched as other species exhibited similar bravery. I guess that hunger overwhelmed fear, or perhaps the sparrows and the blue tit were just afraid that the starlings would eat all the food and there would be nothing left.

The birds have much to teach us. The most important thing is that they recognise their hunger and come to a place where they can feed. They also recognise the provider of their food, but generally keep at a safe distance because they are apprehensive of making too close an approach. The provider is bigger than them, and he moves in a strange way. The more they come to the garden to feed, the closer they are prepared to come to the provider of the food. They remain wary of predators not wishing to become a meal for the sparrow hawk, but they feel safe enough to spend time feeding in the presence of the provider.

To grow spiritually we have to acknowledge our hunger and come to a place where that hunger can be met. The Provider is waiting. Do we recognise Him? If so, why do we try and stay at a safe distance? Yes, He is bigger than us. Yes, He moves in strange ways. Does that matter if we are hungry? Surely our aim must be to become sufficiently familiar with the Provider that we can feel safe enough to approach Him, and spend time in His presence. What a blessing I received this morning as the birds came to feed while I was standing there. What a blessing it is for God when we rise early and come in our hunger to feed from Him.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26 (NIV).

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