BLOGWORD – 13 February 2017 – NEW WEEK NEW FACE – C. KEVIN THOMPSON
NEW WEEK NEW FACE – C. KEVIN THOMPSON
This is For the Birds
I’m a phrase guy. I like to know how we as humans come up with certain phrases that permeate our conversations. Where did they originate? Why were they coined the way they were?
One such phrase is: “This is for the birds!” Ever heard it before? Ever used it? Ever added specifics to it, like “This whole day is for the birds!” or “Politicians are for the birds!” In each case, the phrase connotes a uselessness or worthlessness to whatever is “for the birds.” So, how did a reference to giving or leaving something to birds ever become a negative statement?
Although no one can pinpoint a specific reference, general belief links the phrase back to the days of horse and buggies. When that mode of transportation lined the streets on notable cities like London or New York, it was a common need for pedestrians to “look before you step.” The “calling cards” of the equine conveyance made crossing the street a lively affair, no doubt. As an added bonus to the hustle and bustle of city life, apparently, in the droppings, undigested food—namely oats—became the draw for many an English sparrow. It does make me wonder why nary a raven could have been found and interviewed (maybe even quoted).
This concept of “leaving behind worthless things for the birds” is not a recent or modern phrase, however. It actually finds its roots in scripture. In Isaiah 18:4-6 (NIV), the prophet wrote, “This is what the Lord says to me: ‘I will remain quiet and will look on from my dwelling place, like shimmering heat in the sunshine, like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.’ For, before the harvest, when the blossom is gone and the flower becomes a ripening grape, he will cut off the shoots with pruning knives, and cut down and take away the spreading branches. They will all be left to the mountain birds of prey and to the wild animals; the birds will feed on them all summer, the wild animals all winter.” Notice how the fruit—which is normally harvested BEFORE the pruning takes place—will be left on the vine as the spreading branches and shoots are cut off, left for birds and wild animals to consume.
In Jeremiah 16:4 (NIV), the Lord says, “They will die of deadly diseases. They will not be mourned or buried but will be like dung lying on the ground. They will perish by sword and famine, and their dead bodies will become food for the birds and the wild animals.” In this reference—which is a reference to judgement—those accursed by God will be left “like dung” (Hmmm…where have we heard that before?) for the birds and wild animals to consume.
It seems this concept of leaving behind something worthless, unworthy of consumption or use by man or God, even accursed of God, to rot and be eaten by birds is a very old saying. Much older than the pre-industrial revolution. Yet, this concept of leaving things “for the birds” is also rooted in love, believe it or not.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:26-33 (NKJV), “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
When you are a bird, you can’t sow. I’ve heard of turkey farmers, and chicken farmers, but I’ve never met a turkey or chicken that farmed. They only “get farmed.”
When you are a bird, you can’t reap or store anything, either. Oh, you can build a nest and “store” some eggs until they hatch, but that’s different. When it comes to food, you’re dependent on what falls to the ground from a tree or bush, what teems in a river, lake, or ocean, or what may slither or crawl on the earth. But at no time did you ever have a hand in producing those food sources. God did.
So, it begs the question. If God had not designed His creation like He did, what would have become of the English sparrow, the raven, and the mountain birds of prey since they can’t sow, reap, or store away in barns? I think you know the answer. The trees would be a lot quieter. The skies would be less populated. And the love of God would have been questioned infinitely more than it already is by a world stained by sin.
Yet, even though these creatures seem to be less in stature than Man (Are you not of more value than they?), God doesn’t abandon them. He cares about everything. Everyone. And even though Man was His crowning creation (cf. Gen. 1:26-27), it doesn’t mean every other thing He did create is “on its own” like the theists believe. He loves the lowest of the low, the highest of the high, and everything and everyone in between. That’s how it is when you so loved the world, that you gave your one and only son, that whosoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life (cf. John 3:16).
- KEVIN THOMPSON is an ordained minister with a B.A. In Bible (Houghton College, Houghton, NY), an M.A. in Christian Studies (Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, MS), and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership (National-Louis University, Wheeling, IL). His book, 30 Days Hath Revenge – A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1, is now available! Book 2 of the Blake Meyer Series, Triple Time, will be available for pre-order in late February 2017. The Serpent’s Grasp, a standalone, is coming May 2017. Book 3 of the Blake Meyer Series, The Tide of Times, is coming August 2017.
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