Busy Work

“Do your planning and prepare your fields before building your house.” Proverbs 24:27 NIV


I watched her just about every day.


She worked and worked and never stopped. Her diligence was impressive. Her tenacity was intriguing. The urgency was noted.


The spot where she picked to work seemed futile and I had my doubts it would come together, but her days were busy-busy as she made the preparations.


There were structural defects to the foundation she was building upon. What seemed liked solid footing was an illusion, only seen from my vantage point.


With each twig and stick the mama bird brought to her future nursery, the work increased twice-fold. As she laid one upon the other, she couldn’t see there was a gap between what she was perched on and the side of the eave.


As expected, when a group of the twigs began to take shape, the small mold would fall through the opening then the perch would be empty again, and again, and again. With each defeat, she would tirelessly begin anew. The deck below her was a mess with the loose materials, but she would reuse each item, each time, in order to make her temporary home.



photo: Renae Bowman


And then one day, I opened the blinds and saw the project was complete! To my amazement, she had persevered in her endeavors and made a perfectly round bowl, teetering between the perch and the edge. What looked like a gaping hole that wouldn’t hold a nest, became a perfect spot to start her family.


She sat in it daily.


I waited patiently for the sounds of baby birds.


Each morning brought anticipation when I opened the blinds.


The days passed. We were getting close.


I pulled back the blinds once again and this time I stood still.


I couldn’t believe my eyes.


The perch was empty.


I stepped outside and was met with sadness.


There on the ground laid a perfectly formed nest—and it was empty.


The broken shells next to it told the story.


The strong winds destroyed everything.




Photo: Renae Bowman

And when I returned inside, and the deck was quiet, I heard a lone bird chirping as it stood on the wooden rail. Then I saw her, flying back and forth to the empty space. I wondered if her little heart was as broken as mine.



I couldn’t help but see an analogy to life in this lesson that unfolded before my eyes.


How often do we spend our days laboring over a temporary home?


How often do we work tirelessly to build and build and rebuild nests that are built on nothing but gaping holes?


When will we see that our efforts we so tirelessly work for in this life will all but blow away when the winds arrive?


God has told us many times over,

“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.” Matthew 7:24 NIV


Will we listen?


I’d say He has the best vantage point to see where the best place is to put our efforts. He can see what will sustain us for eternity.


Isn’t that what we should be working for?


All of this…all of this is temporary. But eternity, is well…eternity.


Will we spend our days laboring for then, or for the short time we have here?


Oh her nest was perfect. It was well suited for the job. All her busyness paid off. She most certainly could stand back and say “look what I made.”  The pride swelling inside of her.  All the while missing the flawed foundation.


Isn’t that so us, so much of the time?


My eyes were fixated on that little mama bird. Her efforts were mesmerizing.


And I wonder how many times God stands and watches us, too? Mesmerized by all our fluttering about but heartbroken knowing the futility of it all.


Dear Father, turn our eyes and hearts on you. May we make each day’s work that which focus’ on the eternal than the temporal. Our lives are full of enough details just to get through, may You help us balance it out daily so we build nests which are sturdy in your kingdom to support us forever.


6 Replies

  1. Devery

    These were some of the most beautiful, yet heartbreaking words, I’ve had the privilege to read, in a long time. With tears streaming down my face, the trumpet was sounded, across the facebook pages, as well, for the world to hear, that we work for the wrong reasons, on foundations that will never hold the work the we value the most. Only one foundation, and only one work will stand the tests of time, so let me do that LORD, let me do that! Thank you, Renae, for the beautiful reminder. Your work will stand and not be blown over!

    1. Thank you Devery! The boldness of your faith is contagious. Your foundation is set strong. I am honored to call you friend.

  2. Jeanette Pittman

    Thank you, Ranae. And thank you, Diane. You have both spoken to me this morning and they are words I need(ed) to read/hear. Blessings to you both!

    1. Blessings to you, too, Jeanette! Thank you for reaching out to us–it means the world to hear feedback. And I am glad that God’s words were able to speak to you today. May He continue throughout the day!

  3. Diane

    Oh Renae. . .As I read I wept in my heart and with my eyes. I so relate to that mamma bird. How we pour into our dreams, do all we can on our part only to have life come along and happen. . .I have been grieving a lot this past month, even though it has been two and a half years since my girl passed, lately my heart has felt like that mamma bird. Nest built, love poured in and splat. . .it all stops on a dime. But God came close and said keep doing what I have made you to do and let me take care of the rest. I have a grip on that hope. . .a firm grip as if hanging by the tips of my fingers to the hope of eternity. That is where I find my feet firmly planted. That is the only place to plant my hope and feet. . .in the eternal. Thank you for the sweet reminder and your faithfulness to minister to me. . .. It is a balm to my heart.

    1. Diane, your words are inspiring to us, too. You are a faithful servant who truly understands the one and only solid foundation. Life happens as you say but where will our feet be planted when it does? I am so glad you shared your thoughts this morning. We lift you up in prayer and thank you deeply for your encouragement to others.

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