Chuck Terrill: A cardinal should not look like a duck

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Mary and I are being awakened every day by a cardinal (a bird, not a Catholic clergyman).

He is bright red, and flutters and fights against our bedroom window. At first, I thought the bird was trying to get into the house where it is warm. But now I realize that he is fighting against his own reflection in the window. When the light is just right, shortly after sunrise, our bedroom window turns into a mirror. The territorial bird sees himself and assumes that competition has arrived. So, the fight is on.


I mentioned our angry cardinal at church, and my friend Bob told me that he has the same thing going on at his house. His cardinal, according to Bob, “looks more like a duck, because he has rounded his beak off pecking at himself,” in Bob's truck mirror. I guess the bird just lands there, and begins to peck at his reflected image, and won't give up. The bird's actions sound rather stupid; they even sound painful.

But don't we humans do the same kind of thing? We look at ourselves in the mirror. Maybe we don't like what we see. We begin to peck at ourselves. Peck. Peck. Peck. It is a rather stupid activity, and definitely painful.

“You are no good,” we say to ourselves.

“You will never amount to anything.”

“Why do you always do that?”

“What's the matter with you?”

Peck. Peck. Peck.

I guess we don't understand that our greatest enemy is not without; our greatest enemy is within. It is no wonder that at times loneliness and depression stalk us. We feed those emotions with a negative thought life. Rehearsing negative thoughts pits us against our own self. Fighting ourselves is painful and pointless. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23.7). What we think about ourselves is what we are becoming.

No person, especially a Christian, should ever have a sense of low self-esteem. Jesus’ act of sacrifice says, “You don't have to be good enough. I am good enough for you. I made you the way you are. I accept you. Please accept yourself. And, please remember, I’m still working on you.”

Stop fighting yourself. Relax. Smile. Jesus loves you just as you are. Begin to think positive thoughts about yourself. You can trust His judgment, and He chose to die for you.

A cardinal ought to look like a cardinal, and not a duck, don't you think?

"Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies." (Philippians 4:8-9 MSG)

Chuck Terrill, who has doctorates from Master Theological Seminary and Trinity Seminary, is the senior minister at First Christian Church in Cassville. He may be reached at 471-847-2460.