They had me at “hum.” I mean, who could resist these whimsical winged wonders as they dipped and sipped at the hummingbird feeder on my parents’ desert patio? I was fascinated by their flight, mesmerized by their movements and captivated by their colors. They reminded me of miniature hovering helicopters as they swooped in for a quick bite to eat. My favorite was a male who was draped in neon purple. I christened him “Royal.”
I was smitten.
Apparently, I’m not the first. Hummingbirds have a long list of admirers dating back centuries. The Aztecs called them “reviving birds,” observing their amazing ability to slow their metabolism almost to death, only to “come back to life.” Christopher Columbus, upon arrival in the New World, remarked of “little birds, so different from ours, it is a marvel.” Captain John Smith dubbed them “humbirds,” and described them as “one of the wonders of the (country).”*
My newfound obsession with these agile little aviators inspired me to purchase my own feeder. Only I soon learned that attracting a hummingbird in Wyoming would not be easy. We live on the western edge of their habitat, and only three types of hummingbirds are found in this region.** In our 20+ years here I had only encountered ONE hummingbird.
Undaunted by these intimidating facts, I requested my mom’s sugar syrup recipe, and in faith, filled my cute mason jar feeder. I hung it on a shepherd’s hook outside the kitchen window and asked God to please send me a hummingbird. Then I watched, and waited.
Three weeks passed. As far as I could tell, our hummingbird diner had not served a single customer. Initially I changed the water every few days as instructed. But as the days turned into weeks, I was less diligent. I began to lose faith. My husband expressed doubt that there were even hummers to be had.
The last week of May, we celebrated our youngest daughter’s high school graduation with family and friends. In all the commotion, I completely neglected the hummingbird feeder. The day after graduation, as I sipped my morning tea at the kitchen table, I noticed the stale water in the untouched feeder.
Sigh. I felt discouraged and defeated in my hummingbird quest. Maybe Chris was right after all.
Then unexpectedly, fresh faith bubbled up in my heart, like the sticky syrup when I’d refill the feeder. I recalled the many sweet gifts God had so graciously given me over the years, and how I’d come to know Him as a good Father who loves to delight His children. I’d walked with Him long enough to know He could certainly do it again.
So I mustered a mustard seed of faith and prayed:
Lord, I believe You will send me a hummingbird. Just because I asked. And because that’s just the way You are.
An hour or so later, my parents arrived at the house. When they entered the kitchen, my mom excitedly exclaimed, “Look! A hummingbird!” Sure enough, there she was–a very ordinary-looking, brown, female hummingbird sticking her pointed beak into the metallic red flowers around the base of the feeder! God had answered my prayer! We all gathered around, enjoying the shared moment and celebrating her much-anticipated arrival.
Everyone, that is, except Chris. He was at work that morning. Later, he listened skeptically as we recounted the tale of our tiny backyard visitor. Unconvinced, he wondered if we had instead witnessed a hummingbird moth, commonly mistaken for a hummingbird. We googled images to compare. I was pretty sure we had seen a humming bird. But “Doubting Chris” was putting doubts in my mind.
A week later, Chris and I were sharing a quiet meal at the kitchen table. He happened to glance up from his plate to spy the female hummingbird hovering at the feeder! She had returned! This was no imposter, and Chris was no longer an agnostic! A few days later, he even spotted the male, with his iridescent emerald head. I am now happily married to a Believer!
The advent of these tiny birds brought some not-so-tiny take-aways:
- We can ask God for anything. Even a hummingbird!
- When we ask, the answer may delay. Others may discourage us. Doubt may come.
- Even if we doubt, God is gracious and patient with us. Just like He was with Thomas. And Chris. (And me!)
- Keep watching and waiting. The answer may be only a hummingbird’s breadth away!
- God’s answers are even sweeter when shared with others. That’s why I’m sharing this story with you!
So what will YOU ask your Heavenly Father for today? Step out in faith. He loves you. Let Him surprise and delight you as only HE can!
Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it! (John 14:14, NLT)
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” (John 20:24-29, NIV)
Note: See my blog post from April 2016 for more biblical perspectives on Prayer!
*From “How to Name a Hummingbird” by Kim Johnson.