I work at a horse barn two days a week. It’s hard work to feed, hay, and shovel for 54 horses and it takes at least three of us per day. The pay isn’t great, but the rewards are. There is something comforting about barns to me. I have wonderful, magical memories of days spent bouncing around in hay lofts, playing with friends and kittens. If you’ve spent any time in and around barns, you’ve probably noticed that they are a haven for wildlife, especially sparrows. On a cold morning, when I am first to arrive, I will walk through the barn with my Starbucks insulated coffee cup enjoying the stillness and sweet smell of hay. The sparrows are always there to greet me and they eye me curiously when I enter. They always look endearing to me with their feathers fluffed up to keep out the cold and their pert heads turned to the side so that they can get a good look at me. They feel safe enough to be in my presence even when I am at work. I notice that they frequently follow behind as I leave a stall to see if I’ve left any seeds behind as I’ve cleaned up old hay. The owner of our facility has hung several metal owl silhouettes up and they dangle from the roof by twine. Still the sparrows are undeterred. Apparently they like it there, and truth be told, I enjoy their presence.
I am reminded that sparrows are mentioned often in the Bible. The most familiar reference is in the New Testament when Jesus says, “Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet even your father in heaven knows when one falls to the ground. How much more will he care for your?” (my paraphrase). This week as I was reading through the Psalms, I found another reference and it touched my soul. Psalm 84: 3 says, “Even the sparrow has found a home and the swallow a nest for herself where she may have her young–a place near your altar.”
Sparrows are an insignificant bird by human standards. They are too small to eat and aren’t a songbird per se. Sparrows aren’t particularly beautiful either instead they are rather drab. And they are hardly rare, a dime a dozen really. There isn’t much about a sparrow that makes them worth noticing. But God, our heavenly father, notices them! He knows when they drop to the ground and he is aware of their very existence.
I just love that the Psalmist notes that there is room for even a sparrow near God’s altar. There is room near His throne for the smallest, most insignificant of God’s creatures. I have a mental picture of sparrows hopping about in the eaves of the heavenly throneroom. In God’s house there are many mansions. He has gone there to prepare a place for us. Maybe you feel insignificant, unimportant, unnoticed. God notices. You are important and significant to him, and there will be room for you near his alter too.
One day, when I see heaven myself, I am hoping to find that God has a barn. And I hope there are sparrows nesting in the eaves.