By Buddy Gosey
“That is their job.” Pastor Godfrey replied. “From early in the morning until the sun sets, they are to chase away the birds that eat the rice.”
On a recent visit to Uganda, we journeyed about a mile so that we could comfort a mourning mother who had just lost her daughter. The sun was setting as we approached a massive rice field. When we reached the edge of the field I noticed a lot of commotion in the distance. Soon, I realized the noise came from a couple of young woman periodically shrieking loudly and throwing clumps of dirt. Confused, I asked pastor Godfrey why they were doing these things. That is when I learned that these women were employed to chase birds all day long.
It was only after Godfrey shared this insight with me that I saw the small finches that were scattered along the horizon. These birds were both the beneficiaries of a free rice dinner as well as victims of harassment from a couple of adamant young woman.
Instantly, questions flooded my mind. How much do these women get payed? Do they ever get a day off? How many birds a day do they scare away? How could it make sense financially to pay someone to do this for 12 hours a day?
While none of these questions were answered, (probably because I never asked them out loud) the question closest to my heart had to do with motivation. What drove these women to get up every day, only to chase birds? Better yet, how were they doing it with a smile on their faces and what seemed like a joyful spirit?
Soon, my mind went to our unique purpose found in Christ. Paul writes to the church of Corinth in 1 Corinthians 12:12 “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.”
He continues to say in verses 21 and 22 that,“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,”
Indispensable. As insignificant as it may seem for the majority of each day, God had created these women with a part to play in His church that was absolutely necessary.
In its most basic sense, the rice I had to eat for lunch the next day could possibly be in thanks to the steadfastness of these ladies to chase hundreds of birds a day. In a more profound way, the glory they could bring to God would never be limited to just a seemingly meaningless employment.
Maybe most days feel like you are just “chasing birds”. Flipping burgers, answering phones, or mowing lawns seems trivial. Staying home with your children or your elderly parents can be monotonous. Finishing school is a grind that makes you question why you spend hours a day learning something you may never put to use.
If that is you, remember, you are indispensable. Both in your vocation/education as well as your other purposes found in Christ. Every day is a chance to work not for man, but for the Lord (Colossians 3:23) and that work includes but is not limited to your occupation. Jesus loves you too much to pigeon hole you to only chasing birds.
If I can be honest, when I first learned these women chased birds all day, I felt a great deal of sorrow. Maybe if I were more honest, I’d admit I felt great pity. But after some time, my pity for them, shifted to regret for me.
How is it that they had been chasing birds for nearly twelve hours that day, yet still laughed and smiled? Better yet, how come I often see my work as a chore instead of an invitation to find joy in my purpose? Why do I complain when God invites me into chances to serve Him?
It wasn’t until the flight back that I finally felt some resolve from this gripping experience. Unexpectedly it came as I watched the new film, Bohemian Rhapsody.
Early in the film, Freddie Mercury is talking to his girlfriend, Mary, and is describing how he felt after a recent performance where Queen played in front of thousands. He tells Mary that when he was on the stage performing, he had discovered his purpose. He now knew what he was made to do. He was made to perform. And as he was working within his purpose, he told Mary he experienced a deep satisfaction. He told her the feeling he had on stage that night was the second greatest feeling in the world. Second only to the feeling he gets when he is with her, his first love.
It was then that I realized that there is great joy offered to us when we discover our purpose. God has given us work, not as punishment, but as an opportunity to experience joy as we glorify Him and serve His people. However, ultimate fulfillment will never be found in our work, even when we finally do find our true purpose in life. True satisfaction is instead felt in the presence of our first love, Jesus.
Knowing all that has been done for you is more important than knowing that you have done all. Jesus accomplished all when he said, “it is finished” so that we can enjoy Him and find satisfaction before our work on this earth is done. He has made a way for us to be with Him, our true first love. Let us not forsake Him.
So for me, on the days I feel like God is asking me to “chase birds”, I will choose to do it with joy. My joy will come from knowing that work is good, only because I get to do it with my first love by my side.
- Buddy Gosey
To read more about finding satisfaction in Christ and stepping into your God given purpose, check out my new book, Enough: Someday Starts Today.