A Whisper in the Desert

A Whisper in the Desert

Marty rose early, as had been his custom for many years. At 49, he had worked hard for most of his adult life. He had saved a sizeable amount of money and now he was living his dream of being a full time artist. He enjoyed the simple pleasures of life, one of which included sitting on his deck each morning, cup of Joe in hand watching the sun rise over the dark desert mountains and cast its vibrant pallet across the arid Arizona landscape. Mother Nature’s handiwork was a great source of inspiration for his long day of painting.

The aroma of fresh brewed coffee filled the air with the scent of hazelnut and mint, tantalizing the senses as Marty entered the kitchen. He had set the timer on his automatic coffee maker the night before and a full pot awaited his arrival. Another of the simple pleasures in life.

The air was unusually dry, even for the desert, but Marty was not going to let that deprive him of watching Mother Nature work another miracle. He sat down in his favorite lounge chair, took a sip of coffee and waited for the show to begin.

As the sun began to rise, red-orange, yellow and pink crept over the peaks first, heralding the arrival of the sun and welcoming another beautiful day. Soon after, the dark mountain peaks were bathed in shades of grey, purple, pink, yellow, red-orange and then green as the sun pulled itself into full view, transforming night into day. It was a magical experience that never grew old.

As he sat back and soaked in the new morning colors and the scents of the desert, a new thought entered his mind. A strange, new concept invaded his imagination and raced through his body like a bolt of lightning. He couldn’t explain it, but he knew that his world, the world he knew so well, the world he had grown comfortable with was changing before him and nothing would ever be the same again.

Marty could not explain what he was now experiencing. Only a moment ago he was admiring the sunrise and the beautiful, vibrant colors spreading across the sky and the land, now something had changed, but he didn’t know what. Suddenly all sound ceased. No birds chirping, no breeze whistling through the trees, none of the familiar sounds that he had become accustomed to hearing in the early desert mornings. It was as if the world had stopped.

As he scanned his immediate area he noticed an ant carrying a breadcrumb across the porch. He looked closer and noticed, it wasn’t moving. He placed his finger in front of its path and the ant didn’t move to avoid it. Strange. Had time itself stopped? Had the world ceased to spin and if so, why had he not floated off into space? An uneasy feeling began creeping up his spine. He was able to move and talk and think, but everything around him was in a state of suspended animation, frozen in time. For the first time in his life, Marty was afraid.

OK, there had to be a logical explanation for what he was experiencing. Marty had spent six years in the Army when he was younger. Three tours in the Persian Gulf. If there was one thing the Army taught him it was not to panic. If you panic, you die. Right now he wished that he were in a war zone, because he could formulate a plan of attack or find a safe place to hide from the approaching enemy, but how do you attack or hide from something you can’t see, hear, smell or touch?

Suddenly a bird landed on the railing next to him. He jumped back and tripped over the chair. The bird didn’t flinch. It was a white-crowned sparrow, a common sight in the southwest. Normally these birds were extremely skittish. They bolted if you breathed too hard around them. Strange. Wait a minute, Marty thought to himself as

he looked around. Nothing else around him was moving or making any noise, but this sparrow was hoping around on the rail and he could hear its feet hitting the wood, its feathers rustling as it flapped its wings. He slowly stood up, watching the sparrow closely. It just stared at him. He took a couple of steps toward it waiting for it to fly away, but it just stared at him, unflinching. What’s wrong with this bird he thought? As he leaned in a little closer he heard a voice, “Fear not.” Startled, he looked around expecting to find someone standing behind him, but he was alone. “Fear not,” the voice said again. He looked at the sparrow. No way, he thought, birds don’t talk. Not only was he trapped in the Twilight Zone, he was going crazy.

“For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof. “ This time he knew the voice had come from the bird and he backed away. He really was in the Twilight Zone. It was the only explanation. He expected Rod Serling to walk through his door at any moment.

“For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof. “ The bird said again. OK, since he was stuck wherever he was, he might as well play along. “Animals don’t talk,” he said. He felt stupid talking to a bird, but right now it was his only company. “So how is it that you can speak?”

“Why is it that you think everything around you magically appeared by accident?” The sparrow replied.

“Why not,” Marty replied. “You expect me to believe that an all-powerful creator exists out there somewhere that just waved his hand one day and made everything appear?” He was actually carrying on a conversation with a bird. This is crazy, he thought to himself?

“You are talking to a bird and it’s talking back to you,” the bird replied. “And you still don’t believe in God. “

Marty thought for a second. The bird made a good point. He had never spoken with a bird before or any other animal for that matter. He suddenly remembered a bible verse from Sunday school when he was a kid. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.” Weird he would remember that now. He had not been to church in years. He had not read the bible either. Didn’t even own one, but that verse, for some reason sprang into his mind.

“God created everything you see around you” the sparrow continued. “He created you to have fellowship with you, because he loves you.” “God loves me? But I haven’t spoken to him or even believed in him for over 20 years,” Marty said. “I forgot about God a long time ago.”

“God has not forgot about you,” the bird replied. “He is calling you back home. You believed in him as a child and he wants you to come back because he loves you.”

“How do I know that he still loves me after all of this time,” Marty asked.

“You are talking to a bird,” the sparrow replied. Marty closed his eyes and remembered how much he had loved God as a child and how much he had loved going to church and learning about God in Sunday school. He knew that deep down he had never stopped believing, he had just gotten busy with life and forgot about him.

When Marty opened his eyes the sparrow was gone and time was once again rolling along as always. The birds were singing, the breeze blowing and the ant had almost reached the edge of the porch. Things were back to normal as if nothing had changed, but something had changed. Marty had changed. He would never look at the world the same way again, because he now remembered that God created the world and all of the beautiful colors that surrounded him. He would enjoy the sunrise even more from now on and his art will take on a life of its own and glorify the Lord.

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