One for the Birds

EVERY YEAR, as Christmas draws nearer, I remember a story Paul Harvey told on one of his radio broadcasts. It’s a tale that never grows old.

One raw winter night the man heard an irregular thumping sound against the kitchen storm door. He went to a window and watched as tiny, shivering sparrows, attracted to the evident warmth inside, beat in vain against the glass.

Touched, the farmer bundled up and trudged through fresh snow to open the barn door for the struggling birds. He turned on the lights, tossed some hay in a corner, and sprinkled a trail of saltine crackers to direct them to the barn. But the sparrows, which had scattered in all directions when he emerged from the house, still hid in the darkness, afraid of him.

He tried various tactics: circling behind the birds to drive them toward the barn, tossing crumbs in the air toward them, retreating to his house to see if they would flutter into the barn on their own. Nothing worked. He, a huge, alien creature, had terrified them; the birds could not understand that he actually desired to help.

He withdrew to his house and watched the doomed sparrows through a window. As he stared, a thought hit him like lightning from a clear blue sky: if only I could become a bird—one of them—just for a moment. Then I wouldn’t frighten them so. I could show them the way to warmth and safety. At the same moment, another thought dawned on him. He had grasped the whole principle of the incarnation.

A man becoming a bird is nothing compared to God becoming a man.

God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.


The idea of a sovereign Being as big as the universe He created, confining Himself to a human body was—and is—too much for some to believe.

Christmas comes each year to draw people in from the cold. Like frightened sparrows, so many live their lives on the barren branches of heartbreak, disappointment, and loneliness.

That’s why Jesus came.

Chuck Swindoll

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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