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birdThere are two things I like to see in my garden: birds feeding and redcurrants ripening. Watching the birds feed on the food I put out brings me almost as much pleasure as picking redcurrants from the garden to eat with my breakfast cereal. Along with any other berries I can get hold of. And yoghurt. It is a habit I picked up during regular business trips to Sweden. Crunchy cereal or muesli, served with fresh fruit and yoghurt. Wonderful. It sets my taste buds tingling. I planted redcurrants in the garden because I love the sharpness and the flavour that they add.

So while I derive great pleasure from feeding the birds, I do not expect to see them stealing my redcurrants. The problem is the blackbirds. While they enjoy the seeds and the suet, and don’t even mind stale bread and cake, the blackbirds covet my redcurrants when they start to ripen.

P1060067A couple of weekends ago I rigged up netting around my redcurrant bushes. The challenge is to keep the blackbirds out, while leaving a means for me to access and pick the ripe redcurrants. Imagine my displeasure the next morning to discover that a particularly smart blackbird had found her way underneath the netting and was exploring my treasure trove of fruit. We managed to come to an agreement. I have added more netting, pegs, bricks and even a couple of plastic racquets to block access to the net. In return I afford the lady blackbird special favours, and she comes down to feed while I am putting food out. None of the other birds have the courage to come that close. To be fair, she is more afraid of the pigeons and magpies than she is of me, so I guess she is using me for protection. This week she has enjoyed shortbread crumbs and a scone or two (but without the jam and clotted cream).

RedcurrantsIt is important to protect what is precious. There will be redcurrants in the supermarket soon, but they won’t taste half as good as my home-grown fruit. Hence my investment in netting and blackbird bribes. But there are things far more precious than redcurrants in life. Jesus told a story about a precious pearl:

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:45-46 NIV)

I am guessing that having acquired a pearl of great value the merchant did not leave it on the windowsill of his home. So why, having asked Jesus into our hearts, are we so careless with Him and with what He has invested in us?

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23)