How to Build a Nest and then Let Your Children Fly
Photo by Luke Brugger on Unsplash
"Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father." "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. "So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows."
This time last year, I struggled to understand the term “empty nest.” Why are these two words used to describe the ache that happens when our children leave home.
Why, “nest?” Why, “empty?” It all seems so sad. Then, God, in His amazing creativity, showed me something.
My son and I found it while doing summer yard clean up. A mama bird built her nest in the most unlikely place. On the east side of our house, she chose a Styrofoam spigot cover left over from the winter now hanging from the faucet.
The hollow hidden place inside the cover was perfect for the mama sparrow to build a home for her chicks.
Inside the nest, we found three tiny brown speckled eggs. We decided, of course, to leave it undisturbed to see what would happen. After a while--and from a distance--we spied three featherless brown chicks with yellow open beaks. Again, avoiding the area on purpose, we missed the day when the chicks flew away.
Then, just like that, they were gone. The nest was empty.
I have to admit; I was a little sad. My son and I watched from afar for weeks as the mama instinctively cared for and nurtured her babies to maturity. Then, without fanfare, they were gone. Scattered and made to make it on their own in the world. I wondered where they went, were they safe and fed? I had obviously become attached.
I wonder if the sparrow mama worried about her babies as I did. I wonder if she knows how God sees them and knows every detail of their little lives.
Maybe she didn’t, but I do know God is watching and caring for our sons or daughters? He has walked in every day of their lives. He knows every step they will take. This truth gives me great comfort when I worry, and I hope it does for you.
Photo by Jacques LE HENAFF on Unsplash
After finding the nest empty, I had to look closer. I was curious about its structure and wondered what would become of the emptiness. I found bits of string, leaves, a couple of feathers, green moss, and I think I recognized our dog’s hair at the bottom. The mama sparrow used whatever she could find to build her temporary home into a place where her babies could grow. Perhaps this is what God wanted me to see--what the nest is made of.
Isn’t that similar to how we build a place for our children?
We take what we have, what our good Father has given us, and we weave together a place to grow our sons and daughters. We use...
Strands of hope: Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6 As parents, we line our metaphorical nest, our home, with hope. Our hope is in God to protect and guide our children, to complete His work in their hearts.
Parts of our heart: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.(1 Corinthians 13:4-7) The love for our children is surpassed only by the love of God, and this verse is exactly how He loves us. We love because he loved us first.
Bits of encouragement: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6) Our sons and daughters can step out into the world because God goes with them and He has given us the courage to raise them and then let them go.
A multitude of prayers: This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. (1 John 5:14) Praying for our children is a privilege, and one that never ends. Pray over them when they are small, when they are grown and every day in between. God hears us.
A smidgen of discipline: Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old, they will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:6) Children are not born knowing how to live. They depend on us to show them the way, to teach them right and wrong, and to love others. They need directions. When we show them the path of Jesus, they will not forget.
These are only a few of the pieces we use to construct a home. I’m not even listing those damaging and unproductive things we bring to the nest like disappointment, frustration, and occasionally harsh, angry words. We are parents, not perfect.
The point is, like the sparrow, we take what we have, what we can find and hold it together with the help of God and somehow at the end of almost two decades we have children ready to jump out of the nest. Sometimes, surrounding our sons and daughters with all of these gifts does not ensure they will fly straight and sure, but because they are loved, the ground where they land will be soft and solid.
Of course, we can’t know what a mama sparrow must think about her nest when it’s empty, but I do know from experience the quietness of the empty nest and the ache of a finished season in life. It’s a new season with a new purpose, and I want to think of this new season like the mama sparrow. She finished her nest and nurtured her babies and her season is completed, and now she moves on to build something new. And we will, too.
I am praying for all of you moms and dads preparing to let your chicks fly. You have done a great job loving and raising your babies. You have lined your nest with all they need to grow, and now it’s time to watch them soar like eagles.
Father God, thank you for giving us what we need to love and care for our children. Thank you for our children and we are grateful for your caring watch over them as they leave home and begin lives of their own. We ask for wisdom and discern as we moved into a new season of life and we ask for your comfort and strength as we let go. Amen.
Prayer is the comfort of my empty nest ache and Jodie Berndt's book, Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children:Trusting God with the One You Love is an excellent resource. The book is divided into sections for specific prayer topics from praying for friends of your children to praying at times of illness. The book is a great resource to keep on our shelve beside your Bible.
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