“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.”

When you’re part of the family of God, there’s a new approach to your wardrobe. There’s a new approach to your hygiene. There’s a new approach to your diet, and there’s a new language.

In Colossians 3 we read, “And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another…” Colossians 3:15-16

What did our Ukrainian children tend to do at our house as they learned a new language? They were switching back and forth. They were trying to speak English, but they were also sometimes speaking to each other in Ukrainian. This was not surprising. But, what was our desire? We wanted them to increasingly talk like their mom and dad.

What are God’s children supposed to be learning to do? “…teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:16-17

We’re supposed to speak the language of thanksgiving. What is the normal language that we speak as human beings? Our common language consists of criticism, complaint, whining, frustration … negative, negative, negative, negative. The glass is always half empty, and we want to know what happened to the other half. We want to know why we can’t have more. And we often want to know who is to blame for the glass being half empty.

In spring of 2001, God sent a cardinal to my house, and it seemed desperate to get inside. Day after day, it flew into the glass. People explained to us that it was seeing its own reflection, and that cardinals are territorial. From inside the house, it looked to us like it was desperate to get inside.

I think maybe the territorial argument is only half true at best, because no matter which way the sun was shining, regardless of the reflection, it went all the way around the house. It did this day after day and week after week. It made a mess, and it wouldn’t give up. I wondered when it had time to eat, because it constantly flew back and forth and banged against the glass.L

I decided that birds must be capable of psychosis. Or, maybe it was demonized. Then, I realized one morning as I was having my quiet time, as I was explaining to God what He needed to do, that I was acting just like that little hot-tempered, red-headed bird on the deck.

The cardinal was clearly sure that it needed to get through the glass to get inside. There was ample food outside. There was freedom outside, but this bird was not free, because it was obsessed with what it didn’t have. It was so focused on what it didn’t have that it couldn’t enjoy what it did have. The cardinal threw itself head first into the glass. Hour after hour, day after day, it continued in a vain, futile attempt to get inside. Not only was it never going to get inside, but even if it had, it wouldn’t have enjoyed it.

Several times I thought, “I think I ought to just let it in. Let it have whatever it wants. Okay, buddy.” I didn’t do that, however, because the bird would have made a mess inside. There was nothing inside the house for a bird to eat. We don’t scatter birdseed around the living room. It wouldn’t even have any place to drink. It can’t turn on my sink. There’s water outside; we have a birdbath. Everything it could possibly need is outside where it is, and it is totally focused on what it doesn’t have.

God asked me, “Do you get the point?”

I answered, “Yes sir. Thank you for sending that bird to me.”

The bird went away within a couple of days. I’m sorry it took me so long. The poor bird had to suffer in order for me to get the message. I think the bird was enormously relieved when the Lord said, “Okay, you’ve done your job here.”

We have a problem with thinking that we have to have whatever we want, and God says, “Just give thanks. Give thanks. Give thanks.” W