On a Lark (For the Birds part 2)

"He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God" (Psalm 40:2-3a)

Lark! The herald

The lark is a member of the Oscine suborder of birds. Ornithologically speaking, it's simply a songbird. The Oscines have the most articulate vocals of any family of birds. The word "oscine" comes from the Latin and its origin refers to birds that communicate omens with their cry. Wresting that from ancienct superstition, I don't see why God can't communicate through His creation. If the Holy Ghost can take the form of a dove—the gentlest and most unassuming of birds, see John 1:32—God can, and often does, use His animals as messengers for good things to come. But good things, none of this ominous "omen" stuff. When David writes, in Psalm 40, of God bringing him "out of an horrible pit", it would seem things can only get better.

"The Lord liveth; and blessed be my rock and let the God of my salvation be exalted." (Psalm 18:46)

A flock of larks has its own unique name. It's called an "exaltation". There must be something about a lark in numbers that inspires such a lofty label as that. The imagery it gives rise to is that of celebration. Of music and dancing and nervous energy and adventure. Something, I think, that is missing in our day-in, day-out walk. Why is this? The sun is always shining and God is always good. If we don't feel it, while there may be legitimate reason for brooding and gloom and depression (I'm not going to take that away from you), it doesn't mean God isn't praise-worthy. He is. All the time. The birds see it. As will we if we "continue with one accord in prayer and supplication" (Acts 1:14).

For crying out loud, to do something "on a lark" means to throw caution to the wind and see where it (the wind) takes you.


"O my God, I cry in the daytime, but Thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. But Thou art holy, O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel." (Psalm 22:2-3, emphasis mine)

What is God doing in your life? The seasons cycle around. "Seedtime and harvest" (Genesis 8:22) are perpetual. If times are hard and nothing good seems to be happening, sing. "A new song" is not a bad idea. Anything that gives rise to worship and praise—two things that necessarily invite and herald God's presence in your life—is always the order of the day, and the night. Because when God does show up, we can't help but praise Him. I find, then, that purest expression of such is to simply do it when we don't feel it—or feel like it. The more we do it, the more we find that our motives are aligned and purified and any inherent fakeness is burned out. Don't get me wrong. At our core, we're honest. We love God and want His program for us and those around us. But it's the active worship of Him in the here and now that will cause it to happen. His presence brings with it that which we want and need. So sing a new song, please.

"The Kingdom of Heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which is indeed the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof." (Matthew 13:31b-32)

All Oscines are Passerines. Simply put, a Passerine is a bird that perches. Sparrows, jays, etc. The Passerine family comprises over half of all bird species. In the above passage, Jesus is comparing the "Kingdom of Heaven" to a tree that was sprouted from our faith—faith as a grain of "mustard seed". It's as if He is inviting us to herald, to invite both God's presence ("the Kingdom of Heaven") as well as "the birds of the air" meaning everyone who doesn't have a home for their heart. God is good for it. This is the hard but worthwhile work of trudging through the drudgery of our day while we exalt God and wait for His presence to bring about change in our life and our world. Sometimes praise requires sacrifice.

"By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name." (Hebrews 13:15)

"My soul longeth, yea even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. Yea, the sparrow hath found an house for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house: thy will be still praising Thee. Selah." (Psalm 84:2-4)

Tangled Up In God

Engines of Vengeance