The Hummingbird

The following is based off of a Children’s message delivered at Asbury on Sunday, May 11, 2014.  It was intended to remind our children that no one is perfect – especially their pastor – and that the answer that God has for is simpler than we tend or want to believe.    Since our children’s messages are not solely for our children, I thought it might be a good one to share…and perhaps there was something in it for us.   Shalom, S.

The Hummingbird
hummingbird number 2
There have been a series of blips in my day to day over the last last few weeks that have taken the form of crisis that needed resolving and as a result have come with all matter of people taking it upon themselves to determine just how I was going to solve of fix their worlds.

Although I tend to like to envision myself as some great problem solver and rainmaker, the truth is I approach everything with a barbarian’s mentality.   I believe that if I exert enough force the problem either moves or I learn to like it.   Picture a rock in the middle of your path; the barbarian solution is to push that rock with every last ounce of your being until it moves.   After you exert every last piece of what you have in reserve, and that rock still stands, its only then that the barbarian begins to realize he or she needs a different course of attack; such as stepping around it.

Others see that rock in the way, and they instantly think; “Step around”.   Not the barbarian, and not me. My problem solving tool set is more or less the barbarian way.   This, when said out loud, sounds foolish, but it is who I am.     Worse still to being a barbarian is the accompanying over the top level of stress; not only physically, but mentally, and often spiritually.

When that rock is sitting in front of me, all stubborn like, I am impatient.   I want to move it now.   I get frustrated when it doesn’t.   If that rock sits there long enough I get mad because I am to weak to move it.   When I want change, or a fix, or a solution, and I can’t force my way to it, I second guess myself.   Obviously, this is not the way I want it to be, and I hope that overtime I can become less barbarian and more renaissance man.

Anyways, over the past few weeks there seems to be a whole series of rocks popping up out of nowhere.   At times I have been a stress monkey.   Ask my kids or my wife, and you will learn that when the stress shows up, I tend to get a bit short, and a bit irrational.   I turn into a pirate.

With this pirate confession front and center, I need to acknowledge one of the things that excites me most about my faith is when I recognize God’s presence, voice or whisper…without expecting them.   Those moments where I need an answer, I need a companion, or I need a kick in the backside, and it feels like God is actually responding to me,… Its an incredible feeling.  This is especially so when I am in full out pirate mode.

This past week, when I found myself there, and just about to throw an absolute two year old’s tantrum, I felt a nudge.   I smile because it was one of those moments, and it came in the form of story.     How I heard it really doesn’t matter.   What matters is it was precisely the story I needed to hear, when I need to.   I haven’t been able to put it down since.

As I thought about this story, I thought maybe you could get something out of it too.   I have tweaked the story quite a bit, and added some details to our hero, for everyone loves a hero.   This is her story.   This is the story of Henrietta Hummingbird.

As you probably guessed by the title, Henrietta is a humming bird.  

When you or I look at her we see one of God’s most beautiful creatures, but when Henrietta looks at herself she sees something else.

She thinks she is ugly.   She thinks she is small.   She thinks that she will not amount to anything, and she isn’t good for much.

You got to feel bad for someone like Henrietta.

To add insult to injury, Henrietta lives in the oddest of places.   It is a forest, but it isn’t that which makes it odd; it’s the people she shares her home with.

First is her neighbor, Ed the Elephant.

He is big, and strong.   He can carry things in his trunk. He can knock down trees with a simple push.

Ed laughs at Henrietta, and Henrietta thinks she is small.

Another neighbor is Barry Beaver.

Barry is the forest lumberjack.   His teeth are so strong that he can nibble quickly through any tree.   He can build the biggest houses in the forest, and the whole forest loves his tree cutting skill.

Barry laughs at Henrietta, and Henrietta thinks he is good for nothing.

Then there is Penelope Peacock.

Some believe that Penelope is the most beautiful creature in the forest.  Her feathers look almost like magic.   All day long she struts and wags her tail for the world to see.   And whenever someone sees her they all stop and stare.

Penelope also laughs at Henrietta, and so, Henrietta thinks she is ugly.

The last neighbor I want to mention is Oliver Owl.

He is the smartest creature in the forest.   He knows everything.   They know that one day, he is so smart that he is going to rise up and be king of the forest.   He is just that smart.

Well Maybe he is not super duper smart, because he laughs at Henrietta and so, Henrietta thinks she is stupid and won’t ever amount to anything.   Henrietta is convinced that she will never be anything but a silly little bird.

This is how life is for Henrietta, and so much of her time she spends sad and alone.

She spends almost all of her time wishing she wasn’t small, ugly, good for nothing, and likely to amount to much. Day in and day out she wishes, pretends, and dreams for a different way of living.

Then one afternoon, Henrietta smells something in the air.   She smells smoke.   There is a fire in the forest.   Certain that she needed to help save her home, she doesn’t think twice, and flies to the edge of the fire.

There stood Ed the Elephant, Barry the Beaver, Penelope the Peacock, and Oliver the Owl, and no one was doing anything.

She stared at them and then back to the fire.

She eventually decided that she had to do something.

She decided to fly back to a giant lake quite some distance away. Once there she dipped her tiny beak into the water, and flew back above the fire, where she dropped a single drop of water – one lowly drop of water – unto the center of that raging fire.

She did this over and over again until the rest of the animals stopped her.

“Henrietta what are you doing?” They all asked.

She stared back at the Elephant, who didn’t seem so strong.

Then at the beaver, whose teeth were clattering with fear.

When she looked at Penelope, her feathers were darkened by smoke and fire.

Oliver was the worst, for he just stood there dumbfounded.

What am I doing?   Henrietta Repeated.   “What am I doing?, I am doing the best that I can,” she replied.

The fire eventually did go out and overtime everyone who called that forest home celebrated little Henrietta.

You and I we might get wrapped up in how the fire got put out… We may find ourselves thinking it was firefighters or maybe rain or even the drop by drop of water from a humming birds beak, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is two things.

1.) The fire went out and

2.) From that time on, Henrietta didn’t feel quite as bad, quite as small, or quite as worthless.

Henrietta realized the truth.   She faced the world, and changed it, not because she was the strongest, the prettiest, the smartest, or because she was gifted with the best teeth.   She changed the world because she simply by doing the best she could.

The story – albeit changed from the original- reminds me that I want to be the Hummingbird.

I want to figure out how I can do that one small thing, perhaps over and over, that the world might think is foolish, because I am convinced, that doing so will change the world.

One small thing; That’s all.

This is my answer for the question of rocks in the road, but also to how I think God calls us to act. Deep down in my heart, I know that God calls each of us to do something.   To many of us go back and forth trying to figure out what God has put us here to do.   Sometimes we think that God want us to push and push and push against the rock,….but when I think of the Hummingbird, I think God really wants us to be like here.

Just believe you can change the world, and do one small thing, the best that you are able, simply because you can.

Yup,… I want to be the hummingbird.


(The picture is used under CCL, and was taken by Kevin Cole (c. The original story was shared in another form by Wangari Maathai a Kenyan Ecological and Human Rights activist.   It is based off of a Kenyan Folk tale.   I changed it into the children story more appropriate for the setting)

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