The Sharp-shinned Hawk sits in the bird bath; all the smaller birds have taken cover in the trees, all except the Black Phoebe. The Black Phoebe is a Flycatcher – a pretty black bird with a white belly – looking as if dressed for a formal event. The Phoebe sits bravely on top of a stump or a bare branch. I am in awe of its courage. After discussing why this little bird is so brave when all the other birds flew to cover, my husband and I concluded the Phoebe’s boldness is due to his flight pattern. A more knowledgeable birdwatcher may know the scientific reason, we were satisfied with our conclusion.
The are several species of North American Flycatchers and according to Wikipedia, Peterson’s Field Guide states, “The flycatchers are the largest family of birds on earth, with over 400 known species." The Black Phoebe is medium-sized and usually perches in low exposed areas (the log in our back yard) near fresh water (the bird bath) with tail bobbing up and down. A Flycatcher is known for its acrobatics in flight – useful for snatching flying insects (main diet) right out of the air. I have watched from our back door as a Black Phoebe winged this way and that to catch its supper. Flycatchers also have the ability to hover and snag an insect directly from a leaf.
The Sharp-shinned Hawk, smallest of the hawk species, are quick and agile. We do not see them year round in southern California, but they arrive in winter. I am back to wondering why the Phoebe sat so bravely on a bare branch when this hawk sat nearby. Doesn’t the Phoebe identify its enemy or recognize this to be a quick, agile Sharp-shinned Hawk? Now I am all about getting a mini-lesson on birds, but my purpose in exploring this curious situation elicits questions about my own skills and confidence in facing down the enemy of my soul.
Those of us who claim to be disciples of Jesus often buckle under when the enemy shows up and threatens to take our peace, our families, our homes, etc. I am not claiming we can take away anyone’s free will, but we can certainly do battle in the Spirit against evil. I recently sat across from a young woman I care about and listened as she shared the intense battle going on in her home. I asked if she was familiar with spiritual warfare (fighting in the spirit with God’s power and not in the flesh – our own limited strength) and she said, “Yes”. I strongly suggested she start praying protection over her home everyday.
For some of you reading my blog this may be unfamiliar. If you are interested in learning more about spiritual warfare there are many verses in the Bible teaching how to fight the enemy of God, as well as good books on spiritual warfare. Spiritual warfare involves praying the Word of God and claiming His promises. The movie, War Room, is a good example of spiritual warfare, along with Priscilla Shire’s book Fervent. I also like John Eldredge’s book, Waking the Dead. All believers have access to the power of the Spirit, the same power that rose Jesus from the dead, but we often forget. I know I do.
Priscilla Shire writes, “Praying with precision is key. When we pray about the places where we seriously suspect the enemy is at work – that’s how we keep our prayers focused, not only on particular situations but on biblical truths that are consistent with maintaining victory in the midst of them. It’s how our praying stays integrated with reality, rather than aimlessly wandering . . . Prayer is the portal that brings the power of heaven down to earth. It is the kryptonite to the enemy and to all his ploys against you.”
So how can I be bold in the presence of the enemy like the Black Phoebe in the presence of the Sharp-shinned Hawk? I have to read the Bible daily and know the Word of God. I need an intimate relationship with God and to be aware of His power and presence in my life at all times. This is essential. To some degree I need to know how the enemy works, but he isn’t my main course of study. I don’t know about you, but I want to know how to access the power and tools God made available for me to use in the face of the enemy. I suppose in some way you might call it my acrobatic flight pattern, except I am not just wanting to escape the enemy but to overcome him. And that is exactly what I am able to do through the power of the Spirit.
I am reminded how often I sit hiding in fear like the small birds hidden in the trees while the hawk sits in the birdbath. I am not meant to live in fear or be a victim of the enemy; God’s Word – the Bible – tells me so. I shake myself and say, “Girl, what are you thinking? You have the power of the Creator of the universe behind you and His Spirit lives within you. You are not alone and you are not dependent on your puny self to fight this battle.” I am so grateful for His patience with me and His willingness to continue teaching me about prayer.
The Black Phoebe knows by instinct he can out maneuver the Sharp-shinned Hawk. My instincts are to hide and forget the power I have access to every day. This year I am investing time in the spiritual disciplines – reading the Bible, praying, studying, listening and being accountable – so I will be less likely to forget what I have been given to face down the enemy.