A fledgling cardinal sat at our bird feeder trying to provide sustenance for itself. Struggling with the seeds. Looking for help. Giving up. Escaping into tree branches nearby.

Until dad came to the feeder. Suddenly the ‘toddler’ bird appeared on the lip of the birdbath beneath the feeder, stubby wings beating wildly, mouth agape. Ignored, it flits up to sit beside dad at the feeder. Wings still flapping. Mouth still open, begging incessantly.

Dad eats. Sits. Eats. Sits. Finally dropping a few seed kernels into his offspring’s mouth before flying off, perhaps hoping the toddler will learn to feed itself the food it will need for life to continue.

Efforts shunned. Mouth closes. Wings folded, the stunned toddler sits . . . for a few long moments. Refusing the food in the feeder, it flies to the nearby tree where ever watchful dad has landed. Wings beating wildly, mouth open, begging again. This time, no reward. Dad flies away.

This time the fledgling cardinal does not sit still. In an instant, it heads into the sea of green above our backyard and disappears.

In his first letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul reminded the church that he still could not speak to them as spiritually mature believers, rather as infants in Christ: I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. 1 Corinthians 3:2 

Last night our grandchild, a toddler, was determined to carry a tub of Lego Duplo building blocks, too big and heavy for her. She tried to pick it up. One side lifted, she couldn’t get the other handle. Frustrated. Tried again. Finally let me get it turned around and place her hands on the handles. Two steps. Dropped it again.  Looking down, she couldn’t decide what to do. Yet wailed at help offered. I backed off. She managed to pick it up for a few steps before it slid out of one hand. Stooping, she worked hard and picked it up.

Eye on the prize, she squared her shoulders and set off down the hall toward the family room where she dropped it at the feet of her parents.

Courage. Stubborn independence. Frustration, yet tenacious determination. Focus on the task, and getting to her parents. Big smiles as the ones she sought after rewarded her with affirmation, presence, encouragement, help and joy!

Your words, O Lord, were found and I ate them. Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart . . . . Jeremiah 15:16

As Christ followers, continually expecting God to bring food to us or keep us insulated from problems leaves us with stunted spiritual growth and weak faith.

Young believers do need to be fed regularly and well. But ultimately we should begin feeding ourselves, seeking God on our own, embarking on a journey toward spiritual maturity, and growing into disciples who help make disciples. Ever moving forward through the spiritual, physical, emotional battles of life.

Eyes fixed on Jesus, undergirded by the Spirit, drawn to the Father. There is a prize awaiting each of us who claim the Name of Jesus, both now and in eternity.

In your presence, O God, is fullness of joy . . . Psalm 16:11