Reading: Deuteronomy 20:1-4
When you read all the stories about the Israelites’ problems, try to remember that there’s a reason God kept these stories in the Bible for us to learn. The child of God has his own battles to fight against satan and the world. And the God who was King of the Israelites, who went out in battle before them, and who gave them the victory over their enemies, is the same God who leads us today.
How does God want His people to act when they are about to go into battle?
· Do not be afraid, even if your enemy seems so powerful.
· Remember how God has helped you in the past.
· Listen to the wisdom of those who are older than you, who have studied God’s Word, and who can give you advice and comfort.
· Remember that God doesn’t just fight with you; He goes before you, so that He can save you. Though you will have to fight also, He will take the hardest “hits” for you – He will never put you in a battle that you cannot win. It is up to you to have faith in Him and keep up the good fight!
The following story was written by Thornton W. Burgess and published in a collection of nature stores entitled Mother West Wind’s “When” Stories in 1917. Burgess’s books can be read free online.
WHEN MR. BLUEBIRD WON HIS BEAUTIFUL COAT
Of all the joyous sounds of all the year there is none more loved by Peter Rabbit, and the rest of us for that matter, than the soft whistle of Winsome Bluebird in the spring. The first time Peter hears it he always jumps up in the air, kicks his long heels together, and does a funny little dance of pure joy, for he knows that Winsome Bluebird is the herald of sweet Mistress Spring, and that she is not far behind him. It is the end of the shivery, sad time and the beginning of the happy, glad time, and Peter rejoices when he hears that sweet, soft voice which is sometimes so hard to locate, seeming to come from everywhere and nowhere.
So Peter loves Winsome Bluebird and never tires of seeing him about. You know he wears a very, very beautiful coat of blue, the blue of the sky when it is softest, and you love to lie on your back and look up into it and dream and dream. It always has seemed to Peter that Winsome’s coat is one of the loveliest he ever has seen, as indeed it is, and that it is quite right and proper and just as it should be that one having such a beautiful voice and bringing such a beautiful message should himself be beautiful. He said as much one day when he had run over to the Smiling Pool to pay his respects to Grandfather Frog.
“Chug – a – rum! Certainly. Of course,” replied Grandfather Frog. “Winsome Bluebird has a beautiful nature and his beautiful coat is the reward which Old Mother Nature has given him. It has been in the family ever since his grandfather a thousand times removed was brave enough to become the herald of Mistress Spring.”
“Oh, Grandfather Frog, that sounds like a story,” cried Peter. “Please, please tell it to me, for I love “Winsome Bluebird, and I know I shall love him more when I have learned more about him. His great-great-ever-so-great- grandfather must have done something very fine to have won such a lovely reward.”
“He did,” replied Grandfather Frog. ” He became the herald of Mistress Spring when no one else would, and bravely carried his message of gladness and joy where it was sadly needed, in spite of cold and hardship which no one else was willing to face.’
“Please, please tell me all about it,” begged Peter.
Grandfather Frog appeared to consider for a few minutes, and Peter waited anxiously. Then Grandfather Frog cleared his voice. “I will,” said he, “because you ought to know it. Everybody ought to know it, and Winsome Bluebird certainly never will tell it himself. He is too modest for that. It happened a great while ago when the world was young. Mr. Bluebird was one of the quietest and most modest of all the birds. He wore just a modest gray coat, and no one took any particular notice of him. In fact, he didn’t even have a name. He never quarreled with his neighbors. He never was envious of those to whom Old Mother Nature had given beautiful coats, or if he were, he never showed it. He just minded his own affairs and did his best to do his share of the work of the Great World, for even in the beginning of things there was something for each one to do.
“Old Mother Nature was very busy those days making the Great World a fit place in which to live, and as soon as she had started a new family of birds or animals she had to leave them to take care of themselves and get along as best they could. Those who were too lazy or too stupid to take care of themselves disappeared, and others took their places. There was nothing lazy or stupid about Mr. Bluebird, and he quickly learned how to take care of himself and at the same time to keep on the best of terms with his neighbors.
“When the place where the first birds lived became too crowded and old King Eagle led them out into the new land Old Mother Nature had been preparing for them, Mr. Bluebird was one of the first to follow him. The new land was very beautiful, and there was plenty of room and plenty to eat for all. Then came Jack Frost with snow and ice and drove all the birds back to the place they had come from. They made up their minds that they would stay there even if it were crowded. But after a while Old Mother Nature came to tell them that soon Jack Frost would be driven back from that wonderful new land, and sweet Mistress Spring would waken all the sleeping plants and all the sleeping insects up there so that it would be as beautiful as it was before, even more beautiful than the place where they were now. She said that she should expect them to go to the new land and make it joyous with their songs and build their homes there and help her to keep the insects and worms from eating all the green things.
“But first I want a herald to go before Mistress Spring to tell those who have lived there all through the time of snow and ice that Mistress Spring is coming. Who will go as the herald of sweet Mistress Spring?” asked Old Mother Nature.
“All the birds looked at one another and shivered, and then one by one they tried to slip out of sight. Now Mr. Bluebird had modestly waited for some of his big, strong neighbors to offer to take the message of gladness up into that frozen land, but when he saw them slip away one by one, his heart grew hot with shame for them, and he flew out before Old Mother Nature. ‘ I’ll go,’ said he, bobbing his head respectfully.””Old Mother Nature just had to smile, because compared with some of his neighbors Mr. Bluebird was so very small. ‘ What can such a little fellow as you do? ‘ she asked. ‘ You will freeze to death up there, for it is still very cold.’
“If you please, I can at least try,’ replied Mr. Bluebird modestly. ‘ If I find I can’t go on, I can come back.’ “And what reward do you expect?” asked Old Mother Nature.
“The joy of spreading such good news as the coming of Mistress Spring will be is all the reward I want,” replied Mr. Bluebird.
“This reply so pleased Old Mother Nature that she then and there made Mr. Bluebird the herald of Mistress Spring and started him on his long journey. It was a long journey and a hard journey, harder, very much harder for Mr. Bluebird than the same journey is for Winsome these days. You see, everything was new to him. And then it was so cold! He couldn’t get used to the cold. It seemed sometimes as if he certainly would freeze to death. At these times, when he sat shivering and shaking, he would remember that sweet Mistress Spring was not very far behind and that he was her herald. This would give him courage, and he would bravely keep on. Whenever he stopped to rest, he would whistle the news that Mistress Spring was coming, and sometimes, just to keep up his own courage, he would whistle while he was flying, and he found it helped. To keep warm at night tie crept into hollow trees, and it was thus he learned how snug and safe and comfortable such places were, and he made up his mind that in just such a place he would build his nest when the time came.
“As he passed on he left behind him great joy, and Mistress Spring found as she journeyed north that all in the forests and on the meadows were eagerly awaiting her, for they had heard the message of her coming; and she was glad and told Old Mother Nature how well her herald had done his work. When he had completed his errand, Mr. Bluebird built a home and was as modest and retiring as ever. He didn’t seem to think that he had done anything out of the usual. He simply rejoiced in his heart that he had been able to do what Old Mother Nature had requested, and it never entered his head that he should have any other reward than the knowledge that he had done his best and that he had brought cheer and hope to many.
When Jack Frost moved down from the far North in the fall, all the birds journeyed south again, and of course Mr. Bluebird went with them. The next season when it was time for Mistress Spring to start north, Old Mother Nature assembled all the birds, and this time, instead of asking who would carry the message, she called Mr. Bluebird out before them and asked if he were willing to be the herald once more. Mr. Bluebird said that he would be glad to be the herald if she wished it. Then Old Mother Nature told all the birds how brave Mr. Bluebird was and how faithful and true, and she made all the other birds feel ashamed, especially those bigger and stronger than Mr. Bluebird. Then she said: “Winsome Bluebird, for that is to be your name from now on, I here and now appoint you the herald of Mistress Spring, and the honor shall descend to your children and your children’s children forever and ever, and you shall be one of the most loved of all the birds. And because you are a herald, you shall have a bright coat, as all heralds should have; and because you are true and faithful, your coat shall be blue, as blue as the blue of the sky.’
“She reached out and touched Mr. Bluebird, and sure enough his sober gray coat turned the most wonderful blue. Then once more he started on his long journey and he whistled his message more joyously than before. And because his whistle brought joy and gladness, and because he was beautiful to see, it came about just as Old Mother Nature had said it would, that he was one of the most loved of all the birds, even as his great-great-ever-so-great- grandson is to-day. ‘
Peter drew a long breath. “Thank you, Grandfather Frog,” said he. “I have always loved Winsome Bluebird and now I shall love him more.”
For Further Study:
Even though a life with God has many blessings, it’s certainly not a life of ease. God’s Word shows us that His people have battles to fight for Him. Read Ephesians 6:12; 1 Timothy 6:12; and 2 Timothy 2:3.
Romans 7:21-25 talks about another battle that the child of God faces – the battle between what he knows is the right thing to do, and what his body wants to do. Do you ever feel this way, like you know what’s right but the wrong seems so much easier? When are some times when you face this battle? How can you be ready for the next time you have to fight it?