Who’s that singing?
I peered through the glass of the storm door and discovered a little sparrow belting out an aria on the deck.
The sight beyond the sparrow quickly turned my smile into a frown. Thin-stemmed, summer plants drooped over the edges of pots and cried for replacements. The grass, drained of summer’s lush green, imitated a worn, beige carpet.
The typical mid-autumn scene looked drab and colorless—much like how the uptick predictions of coronavirus cases and recent political controversy make me feel.
As I concentrated on the bleak picture, the little feathered songster hopped onto a deck table where a flat of pansies waited to be planted. She cocked her head toward me and chirped loudly as if trying to get my attention. Then she perched on the edge of the plastic plant tray and thrust her beak in and out of the pansies several times.
“You’re not a hummingbird seeking nectar. Why are you poking your beak into the flowers?” I asked her as if she could understand.
The sparrow may be hunting for bugs, but she seems to be pointing to the pansies. Is she directing my attention away from withering drabness to a prettier sight?
Ahh—the pansies. How beautiful they are with dramatic yellow and purple petals and center markings that look like tiny faces.
These fall flowers are so friendly, just like my little visitor.
I’m thankful God used His floral and feathered creations to divert my attention from a negative view to a positive one.
In this world, it’s easy to focus on what’s wrong or scary or frustrating and forget what is right and hopeful and beautiful. This current season is the perfect time to follow the teaching of Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.Philippians 4:8 ESV
I can choose to lament over the wilting plants and brown grass scenarios around me or I can plant my purple and yellow pansies and enjoy the song of the sparrow, knowing each season has a beauty of its own.
I cannot, however, live with my head in the clouds and a permanent grin on my face. Simply employing the tactic of “positive thinking” or looking at the world with a Pollyanna perspective is not what the verse means.
We should keep abreast of the news, take care of our responsibilities, and address life’s challenges. However, when our thought patterns stay riveted on the negative, we drift toward despondency, fear, and anxiety.
How are we to direct our focus?
When we read, study, and share biblical truths with others, we can maintain a perspective of life that pleases God. All of the adjectives in the verse are illustrated in the Bible. The more we study His Word, the easier it is to view the world—the good and the bad—through the lens of Scripture.
How can we take care of daily responsibilities while concentrating on “these things” mentioned in Philippians 4:8? Here are a few suggestions.
Five Ways to “Think on What is Lovely” As We Acknowledge Life’s Realities
- After watching the news, why not pray for our leaders as you take a brisk walk to look for bright red berries or golden leaves.
- When you’re walking to your car, notice the way an oak leaf twirls to the ground or the way a squirrel hides treasured acorns. Thank God for His provisions during all seasons and ask for His wisdom to manage concerns.
- List the adjectives in Philippians 4:8 and note examples of each during the week. Find Bible verses that align with each one.
- Cut small branches from a pine or cedar tree and put them in a vase of water. Inhale the woodland scent and thank God for His strength and His creation that surround us.
- Notice different varieties and colors of pansies. List the unique ways God gifts His people to serve others throughout the seasons. Ask Him to guide you to His plans for your gifts.