The eye that sees each sparrow fall, His unseen hand is in it all.
The above is part of a church hymn I used to sing ("Lord I Believe"). Trust me - it ties in to this post quite well. The story I'm about to tell is an old one. I've told it many times, and it still resonates with me all these years later. I find that as I apply it to my life, it really fits every situation. I lived through this in the summer of 1998, and it was about seven years later I was reflecting on it and realized it had a much more meaningful application. Bear with me. You're about to embark on a journey that will reveal to you how my mind works. And that it takes me a really long time to learn life lessons.
Statistics state that most vehicle accidents occur within three miles of one's home. For every single accident I've had, (and no, I will not divulge that grand total) that statistic has rung true. Funny how things "hit so close to home". I remember the summer of 2000 when my friend Ken stood on the sidewalk and witnessed a six car pile up on Cody's main street. I was involved. It was a doozie - and when I had stopped crying long enough to ask him if he could drive me, he took me to our friend Darrell's work - the body shop. Four days later I drove to see Darrell again because I had hit a boulder and scratched the side of my car. Darrell said, "Val, I like seeing you often, but this has got to stop." That was a bad week. Thank God for friends like Ken and Darrell, though. I digress.
One of my first "accidents" happened in the first vehicle I ever purchased. My tan, 1988 Chevy Celebrity. It was my first car, my first bank loan, and my first love. I loved that car and made every possible excuse to drive it.
I was living with my parents and working about 30 miles from home as a Sales Associate at Corral West Ranchwear. This particular day, I had the day off, but it was payday. Before the days of direct deposit, I had to pick up my check from the store and deposit it in my bank account.
It was a gorgeous summer day. Bright shining sun, not a cloud in the sky, a whisper of a breeze, and miles of unadulterated scenic highway. I had what my dad called "four-by" air conditioning. Four windows that rolled down. With the windows down, my FM tunes blaring, my sunglasses on, and my hair tussled by the wind, I felt like a movie star.
I was less than two miles from home when I saw the flock of sparrows on the side of the road. They were enjoying the warm day and the barley tops that had spilled over on to the road from the trucks. As my car approached, they all took to flight in sync, lifting and darting in complete unison. One little sparrow must have been having an off day, however. He didn't make it in time to be with his friends. He smacked my windshield with a surprising force for as small a creature he was. His head was down between my wiper blades and his feet were toward the middle of my windshield. He had one wing spread to his side, and the other tucked beneath him. It was entirely evident he had just flown his last flight.
I was about nauseated by the sight. Also, being raised by my mom (the worrier), I knew that birds carried diseases. Therefore, I was not about to stop and touch this bird in an attempt to remove it from my windshield. I did the only thing I knew to do. I kept driving.
Before I reached the main highway, little bird was becoming more of a distraction. Feathers were flying everywhere and I had to roll up my window so they stopped flying inside the car at my face. His little feet were tapping on my windshield in rapid succession, like a little machine gun. I couldn't handle hearing the tap-tap-rappity-tap any longer. I turned up my tunes. Problem solved.
You can probably imagine, however, how distracting it would be to have this small body in the middle of my windshield. The further I drove, the fewer feathers remained. It was becoming a true eyesore the longer I went along. I couldn't stomach it anymore. I put my hand up and spread my fingers to block the bird from my view. Problem solved.
The looks I got on the highway as vehicles passed me in the opposite direction were somewhat priceless. My head was bobbing as I was rocking out to my radio, my hand was in mid-air in a random salute, and there was a dead bird in the middle of my windshield. And I drove like this for 30 miles.
When I pulled up to work, I ran inside to get my paycheck. It was a quick visit, as I had other errands to run. When I got back into the car, I re-assumed my position. I drove across town to the Wal-Mart, parked the car, and ran inside to do my shopping. I remember hoping some nice stranger would kindly remove the carnage from my car while I was inside.
When my shopping was done, I walked back out to the parking lot where a mom and two children were loading in to an SUV in front of me. A little girl, about four years old, was completely fixated on something. I looked around to see what could be so interesting, but finding nothing, got in my car. I looked up and our eyes met. She had been looking at the bird. That dead, disgusting bird. I most likely scarred that little girl for life.
I once again assumed my position. It was time to head home. The tapping of the little birdie toenails called for even louder tunes, and my hand was spread to capacity to cover the unsightly view. I drove all the way back to my town and clear to the opposite side of it to try to catch my dad at his office. He was just leaving as I pulled up.
I had driven nearly 70 miles by this point, with the bird as a new fixture on my windshield. I rolled down my window as I pulled up alongside him. "Hi Dad. Can you please take this bird off my windshield?"
Dad looked, trying to process the question I had just asked him. He had been used to me spouting random inquiries, but this was something. I remember he looked and said, "That's a bird?" It was true - it looked more like an alien-creature than a sparrow at this point.
"Yeah. I drove to Cody and back after I hit it. I didn't want to touch it."
"You did what?......Val.....*sigh*"
He put his truck in park, grabbed a glove from his seat (I'm telling you, birds carry diseases...) and peeled the bird from my windshield. He tossed it over to the nearby gravel pile. We never saw the bird again.
Here's the kicker, and what this experience taught me years later. As we go through life, our experiences and challenges put us to the test. Some of them we try to ignore. We create our own diversions to distract us from the gruesome truth of what we're up against. We pretend they don't exist, we do what we can to cover them up, and we try to go on as if we don't have the ugly truth staring us directly in the face. We hope someone else will take care of it. We hope it will somehow go away. If we move fast enough, stay busy enough, or tell ourselves enough times it isn't a problem, then maybe it won't actually be a problem. In reality, we tend to make it more of a mess by not dealing with it. It gets worse instead of better. We forget that whether or not we go on as if it doesn't exist, other people see it. Other people are impacted by our choices. Everything we do - and for that matter - everything we don't do, affects everyone around us.
The only way to get around it, the only way to set ourselves free, is to take it to our Father. Once we ask him to take care of it, once we give him permission to handle the gross, ugly carnage we've found ourselves in the middle of, he takes it from us. Without lecture, without question, he tosses it to the side and we never have to deal with it again.
You don't know how many times I've come back to this experience. You don't know how many times I've had to remind myself the lesson I learned years later. You don't know how many times I've forgotten I don't have to take care of everything (that I CAN'T take care of everything) by my own power. You don't know how many times I've had to ask him to just fix it. And you don't know how many times he has.
Lord I believe, yes I believe; I cannot doubt, or be deceived;
The eye that sees each sparrow fall -
The eye that sees each sparrow fall -
His unseen hand is in it all.