the missouri bird revival

"It was a fight for survival
that broke out in revival"

-Ray Stevens

The Tweet that started the questions rolling:
"3.5 church staffers just freed 1 very live bird from a drain clogged with over a foot of debris, & a very dead squirrel. Bird WIN!"

Having been a church staff member lo these nearly 8 years, I have lots of stories to tell. Collecting those stories in written form is often suggested, and this is just one of those bizarre yet triumphant tales of God's sense of humor. So sit back and enjoy.

Last week, some uncomfortable situations and news of friends and family in crisis left me in a bit of spin on Tuesday, the first day of my work week. It also happened that on top of my regular work I had a newsletter due and a massive food drive to prep for (which, praise God, went incredibly smooth). I was swamped, literally and emotionally.

But Tuesday just happened to be a really beautiful day, the kind we usually tend to miss trapped in an office with windows you can't open. (Well, you could open them. But only once.) So that afternoon somebody, or everybody, got the bright idea to take the staff meeting outside. There's only four of us, so we grabbed some chairs and went off to the side of the building to take in some sun.

As we were sharing prayer requests, I noticed a sound coming from a gutter and went to investigate. Scratching. My stomach sank. There was a bird stuck in there. Maybe a squirrel. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's creatures trapped and terrified.

I walked back to the guys and didn't say anything, but immediately started praying we could get whatever it was out.

Soon they noticed the sound too, and we all went over to investigate. This was a gutter drain from a two story flat gym roof, and it was screwed on to a flexible plastic drain that ran under a bit of ground to open up a few feet later. But the really odd thing was that the movement and scratching were nowhere near the bottom of the metal gutter. It was a foot or more above that point, which could mean only one thing. Clogged gutter.

I told them from experience there were almost definitely dead things in there. I'd freed a sparrow from the side of a house once, only to find him in there with the bones of his brethren. This, I presumed, would not be pretty.

Waiting for tools, I held on to the pipe and tapped. And then... the creature tapped back! This communication took place more than once. If I was a crier, I woulda lost it right there. I've halted traffic to rescue dazed birds in the middle of Highway 67. Nothing would stop me now.

The youth pastor produced a screwdriver, and we started the task of removing metal from plastic. Sure enough, when we got it undone it was clogged full of debris. We tried using sticks, but with little success. So I stepped in to reluctantly reach up the pipe (with my right arm, not the recently fractured left one), and started digging, pulling out clods of dead leaves and who-knows-what, my arm up the pipe nearly to my elbow as I'm mumbling, "Dead things, dead things, dead things..." Not exactly how I planned to spend my afternoon.

Eventually the associate pastor found a crowbar which we managed to use to get some more clumps out. (We also noticed the scratching sound was going higher up the pipe as he pushed...) At one point, said pastor stopped and asked, "Do you guys smell that?" but shrugged, and we kept on working.

Shortly after, a large clump fell out... and a small bird flew out! Followed by something else unidentified plopping on the ground. For the bird I was elated, as it flew off to a distant tree to look back at us in some bewilderment, with the senior pastor, and the only one without mud on his hands, waving and yelling, "You're welcome!" (Yes, he was the ".5 staffer." The cheering squad.)

We all turned back to the unidentified gray thing. Someone poked it with a stick to reveal a very dead, large, adult squirrel, and we all let out a collective, disgusted groan. Fortunately a church member, who also happens to be a nurse, had shown up to watch the spectacle, and provided a rubber glove with which I could carry the poor thing off by the tail to some overgrowth.

Mission accomplished, three of us headed inside to detox. I haven't been that covered in mud in a while, and I still have a nice mark on my forearm from the job. But the satisfaction of freeing that little bird made it all worthwhile. And a day that started off not so great ended up in a classic rescue operation.

If that wasn't enough, after I got home and we were heading out for Ben & Jerry's free cone day, I opened the door to our garage to find a very live squirrel on the hood of my car! He scampered down the hood and out the door quick, but I could not believe it. (There has since been some speculation as to whether they just have a really good network, or if it rode home on the undercarriage to take revenge over a huge misunderstanding of the day's events. However, no brake lines were chewed.)

Honestly, I can't make this stuff up. (Well, except that last bit.) I say it often, I truly love the Lord's sense of humor, and I thank Him for setting all this up in the midst of everything to provide the relief of rescuing one of His birds and giving us a lot of laughs, even in the fairly hilarious social networking discussion that ensued.

The bird we saved to live another day, but a little revival happened in me. Thank you, Lord, for redirecting my focus once again. And for simply making me smile.

"A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."

 -Proverbs 17:22

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