From At the Master’s Feet, Sadhu Sundar Singh (1889-1929) (See Meditation #143)
Once, as I traveled through the Himalayas, there was a great forest fire. Everyone was frantically trying to fight the fire, but I noticed a group of men standing and looking up into a tree that was about to go up in flames. When I asked them what they were looking at, they pointed up at a nest full of young birds. Above it, the mother bird was circling wildly in the air and calling out warnings to her young ones. There was nothing she or we could do, and soon the flames started climbing up the branches.
As the nest caught fire, we were all amazed to see how the mother bird reacted. Instead of flying away from the flames, she flew down and settled on the nest, covering her little ones with her wings. The next moment, she and her nestlings were burnt to ashes. None of us could believe our eyes. I turned to those standing by and said, “We have witnessed a truly marvelous thing. God created that bird with such love and devotion, that she gave her life trying to protect her young. If her small heart was so full of love, how unfathomable must be the love of her Creator. That is the love that brought him down from heaven to become man. That is the love that made him suffer a painful death for our sake.”
To many people life is full of peril, and they are like that hunter who caught sight of a honeycomb on the branch of a tree overhanging a stream. Climbing up, he began to enjoy the honey, quite unaware of the fact that he was in peril of death, for in the stream beneath him lay an alligator with open jaws waiting to devour him, while around the foot of the tree a pack of wolves had gathered waiting for him to descend. Worse still, the tree on which he sat had been eaten away at the roots by an insect and it was ready to fall. In a short time it did fall, and the unwary hunter became the prey of the alligator. Thus, too, the human spirit, while in the body, enjoys for a short time the false and fleeting pleasures of sin, without a thought that it is in the midst of this fearsome jungle of the world. There Satan sits ready to tear it to pieces, and death, like an alligator, waits with open mouth to gulp it down, while, worst of all, the tiny unseen insect of sin has eaten away the very roots of the body and life.
But the sinner who comes to Jesus will be delivered from sin, from Satan, and from death, and receive eternal joy “which no one shall take away from him” (John 16:22).
The human spirit abides in the body very much as the chicken in the shell. If it were possible for the bird within the shell to be told that outside of it was a great world, with all kinds of fruit and flowers, with rivers and grand mountains; and that its mother also was there, and that it would see all this when set free from its shell, it could not understand or believe it. Even if anyone told it that its feathers and eyes, ready now for use, would enable it to see and to fly, it would not believe it, nor would any proof be possible till it came out of its shell.
In the same way there are many who are uncertain about the future life and the existence of God, because they cannot see beyond this shell-like body of flesh, and their thoughts, like delicate wings, cannot carry them beyond the narrow confines of the brain. Their weak eyes cannot discover those eternal and unfading treasures which God has prepared for those who love Him (Isaiah 64:4; 65:17). The necessary condition for attaining to this eternal life is this, that while still in this body we should, by faith, receive from the Holy Spirit that life-giving warmth like the chicken receives from its mother.
The Almighty God, who is able to make something from nothing, is also able by the word of His power to confer immortality on that which He has made. As for those who believe, as Jesus said, “I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall anyone take them out of My hand” (John 10:28).
Romans 8:31-32 — What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all— how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Isaiah 64:3-4 — For when you did awesome things that we did not expect, you came down, and the mountains trembled before you. Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
John 16:22 — (Jesus said), “…Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”
AN EVENING PRAYER: Into your hands this night, gracious Father, I place all that I am and all that I have. You alone have made me to be your own for time and eternity. You called me into your presence, crowned me with your gifts, and have kept me in this one true faith. Now, for the hours of darkness, I ask for your protection for body and soul. Grant me and my family a restful night, that we may arise in the morning to another day of service in your kingdom; through Christ, my merciful Lord. Amen. –unknown