Don’t Mess with Mama Bird (A reflection on the soft fierceness of a mother’s love)

Eggs in nest

In the tree outside my window there is a little nest.

On the electrical line that runs not far away there is a giant black bird.

This is not a good combination.

From the oversized tail feathers and the car-alarm-competing cry, my bird book tells me the giant black bird is a great tailed grackle. And this giant grackle is intent on eating the tiny egg inside that nest.

I would not want to be that egg.

Nature is harsh, and the thin shell of protection is no match for a giant pointy beak. The twisty branches and their gentle covering are no deterrent. I watch as the grackle swoops closer, navigates the outer branches, and dives for the nest.

But God did not leave that little nest without protection.

Hidden in those branches is a guardian far more fierce than twisted branches and a layer of egg shell. In the second after that grackle dives for the nest, he changes course and flees from the tree. Inches from his tail is a tiny mama bird in quick pursuit, twittering her defense call. This new bird is less than one-third the size of the grackle, but she launches herself with a determination that is no match for mere hunger.

The grackle flees, and in that moment, I would not want to be that grackle.

When we think of a mother’s love, we often think of the nurturing, soothing kind of love. We picture mamas rocking their babies and kissing injuries. They restore calm to a world gone crazy. Oh, how we need that kind of mother’s love!

But there is another kind of mother’s love that we also need. The kind of love that says you should never get between a mother bear and her cubs. The kind of love that says a tiny bird can take on a giant… and win.

When Jesus stood lamenting over Jerusalem, he demonstrated both kinds of this love. “Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” he cried. “How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings” (Luke 13:34).

I often think of this analogy in the soft sense. I think of how comforting it must be for a chick to snuggle against the downy warmth of its mother and be covered by her wing. There is a reason we make pillows and duvets out of down!

But today, as I watch this little bird defend her nest, I see another side to this mother hen’s protection. While the baby chicks are nestled under her wings, mama hen is keeping watch. If the need arises, she will defend those chicks with everything she has – beak, claw, and sheer determination.

God instilled both kinds of love into a mother – a softness and a fierceness that are unmatched anyplace else. And God offers both kinds of love to us. He longs to gather us close, comfort us, and nurture us. He longs to protect us with an intensity that shouts: You are mine. Nothing – nothing – can separate you from my love.

This is the soft fierceness of a mother’s love. This is the soft fierceness of God’s love for us.

This post was first written for inspireafire.com. I hope you enjoyed it!

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Meet Janet!

Janet Beagle, PhD is the founder of The Mustard Patch. She divides her time between the Midwest and New England, and if she’s not writing, she’s probably out hiking with her 2-and 4-footed friends.