My Nano Patch -- Doves in Winter

I noticed one thing about doves, they love to huddle together in cold
winter days.

Our back garden, with left-over seed crop from annuals and perennials,
has been a favorite spot with doves. In years past, they've always
congregated in our backyard whether dozing off on the fence, or
helping themselves to seeds on the ground on cold sunny days. It was
common to see flocks of twenty – thirty of them on any given day.  

There is something unusual this winter. They seem tentative. The
huddles are much smaller, if at all. Most of the time, I see them
scattered high on neighbors' roofs.

Then it dawned on me. There has been a bird of prey – I think a hawk
– patrolling the neighborhood airways. One day, opening the back door
to our garden, I heard a flutter of wings and saw the long-tailed
suspect hurry away and disappear behind some trees. On the ground,
he left behind a big pile of feathers. Upon further investigation, I
determined they were the plumage of a dove. No flesh remained.
There was one little fragment of a bone and two pieces of intestines
left. And a big pile of feathers.   

I like doves. They are gentle and humble. Despite their larger size,
I've seen them being chased away by the much smaller sparrows
clamoring and fighting noisily for food on the ground.  

Then the unexpected happened: two weeks ago I was thrilled to count
45 doves on the fence extending partly into the neighbor's fence, plus
about a dozen on the ground strolling, foraging, or dozing. O, joy! I
could hardly contain myself.

There is something soothing and healing to see a flock of them
dwelling peacefully together.

O, I know, they don't always behave this way. In the warmer mating
season, they form pairs; the male will chase away any itinerant
suitors. At nesting time, no intruder is allowed near them. To
strengthen the bond between pairs, the male and female will groom
and feed each other prior to mating. As much as I favor their big
peaceful huddles in winter, I understand too their adamant stand for
and protection of individual family units.

Somehow I knew there was going to be spiritual applications to all
this.

The Bible teaches that the husband-wife relationship is a picture of
the Christ-Church relationship. For the church life to be proper and the
saints to “huddle together” in harmony, the individual family units
must be protected and strong. No intruders into a family are allowed
regardless how noble the cause for the church it may be. Family life
cannot be sacrificed in the name of church life, for the family life is the
amino acid, if you will, of the church life.

Having said that, family life can only be strong as Christ is given the
headship of the household. Without a genuine pursuit of and
submission to Christ, a family will drift either into the world, or into a
hollow Christian religion centered on a pastor, a building, or a tradition.

The same is true in our individual walk with the Lord. Without a direct
and first-hand relationship with the Lord, no amount of Christian
fellowship, Bible knowledge, or even ministry will mean anything. On
the other hand, once a normal relationship with the Lord is established
and on-going, one cannot but reach out to the saints for fellowship
and building up. It is fellowship which often brings encouragement,
enlightenment and adjustment to our sweet, albeit limited, individual
pursuit and experience of Christ.

Looking at those doves, I was reminded again that it is a common life
that enabled them to huddle together. Many Christians make
knowledge, understanding, experience, or vision and revelation
criterion for “huddling.” They split hairs regarding doctrinal
interpretations and experiential differences and result in divisions. May
we all learn a thing or two from the humble doves?  

I remember well my salvation experience. As soon as I was born
again, I loved Jesus and hungered for Christian gathering and
fellowship. No one had to teach me about assembling together; the
desire to gather came with the life of Christ that I received. My father
brought the family to Peru in 1967 where I was saved. Not knowing
any Spanish – and hardly any English – I yearned for the Sunday
gathering in the little Baptist Church in Trujillo, the city where we
settled. Somehow, just seeing the faces of the believers was
satisfying enough for me, I didn't have to understand what they were
saying – for that initial stage of my young Christian life anyway.

About a month ago, through some brothers and sisters, our little
gathering got to welcome two African refugee families into our homes.
Outwardly, they cannot be more different from us. From language,
custom to mindset...everything was different. Yet we are able to
“huddle.” It has to be the same life that we have, because we can
hardly even communicate, much less come to doctrinal terms. I tell ya,
we have to learn a thing or two from those humble doves.  

Eventually, with the growth in life – and fellowship – knowledge and
revelation will come. And building up will come. So will a proper church
life.

This order is extremely critical: the individual pursuit of Christ
resulting in growth in life leading to fellowship, knowledge, revelation,
building up and corporate church life.

My dear wife and I have tragically mis-pursued in years past what we
thought to be New Testament-styled corporate church life where a
gifted man and his teaching came first and foremost. The early-church
styled group we belonged to majored in “huddling.” O yes, you
guessed it, an atrocious hawk had a field-day with the docile doves.
Body parts flying and plumage everywhere!

Well, here we are, many years later – limping and minus a few
feathers – the Lord graciously gathered a gentle huddle again a little
over a week ago during our special gathering with many out of town
saints. How my heart thrilled to see the saints as the saints learned
to return to pursue the Lord first and foremost!

Indeed, the Lord coming first and foremost was evident as His
anointed presence was everywhere. I saw Him walking, talking,
correcting, eating and, heaven forbid, “dozing off” among the simple
gentle huddle.

What an awesome God!

(Told ya, there was a spiritual application in there somewhere....)

Oliver Peng
Jan. 16, 2005
My Nano Patch