Encouragement for Today - July 18, 2005


July 18

Encouragement for Today


Feeding Black Clouds

By Rachel Olsen, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member, Co-editor of Online Devotions


Key Verse:


Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God and trust in me.” John 14:1 (NCV)




Does your outlook sometimes grow gloomy?  Ever feel like a little black cloud follows you around - hovering over you, blocking out your sunshine?  


For Phyllis, from Washington State, it literally does.  Phyllis is a school bus driver by trade.  Twelve years ago she began feeding the crows that sometimes gathered in the bus parking lot where she works.  After more than a decade of feeding them, she now has 30-40 crows that follow her around wherever she goes. 


The school district warned Phyllis to stop feeding the birds.  While she ceased feeding them on school property, she continued to feed them elsewhere.  Therefore, the cloud of black crows continually hovered over her and her bus - causing a spectacle, leaving a mess and damaging the paint.  Soon she was suspended from her bus-driving job for this. 


What strikes me in this woman’s true story – besides the mental picture of a yellow school bus going down the road swarming with black crows – is that she continued feeding the birds that threatened her livelihood.  Why would anyone continue encouraging the black swarm despite the negative effects it brought? 


Perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised – we all feed our black clouds from time to time.  We may have never fed crows, per say, but we’ve fed our own personal swarms of fear, pity, anxiety or doubt.  We’ve dwelled on the past.  We’ve refused to forgive someone.  We’ve refused to forgive ourselves.  We’ve been pessimistic.  We’ve pushed the love or help of others away.  We’ve doubted God’s ability to deliver us.  In short, we’ve encouraged our own black crows.


Have you been spending too much time “bird-watching” lately?  If so, trade in your bird seed for the truth of Scripture.  Let God’s Word be your scarecrow.


n         “God said, ‘Let the light shine out of darkness!’ This is the same God who made his light shine in our hearts by letting us know the glory of God that is in the face of Christ.”  2 Cor. 4:6 (NCV)


n         “’Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland,’ says the Lord.”  Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)


n         “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”  2 Cor. 9:8 (NIV)


n         “Jesus said, ‘Don’t let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God and trust in me.’” John 14:1 (NCV)


As you read through the Scriptures, taking them into your heart with hopeful faith, the swarm will clear and you will again see the light of truth.  Jesus is fully trustworthy and more than able to meet your needs.  


My Prayer for Today:


Lord, I regret feeding those joy-steeling, peace-robbing, light-blocking crows before seeking the victory and hope that is found in You and Your Word.  Help me to keep my spiritual skies sunny, despite my circumstances here on the ground, by keeping my focus on You.


Application Steps: 


Look around and see what crows you may be feeding with your attitude.  Then look beyond the swarm to the Word of God to renew your mind.  Find specific Scriptures that speak to your mind and circumstances.


Reflection Points:         


Name your black crows.  Unforgiveness?  Worry?  Doubt?  Self-loathing? 


What things do you regularly think or do that encourages these “crows.”


What does the Bible say about these things?


Power Verses: 


Psalm 23:6, “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”  (NIV)     


1 John 2:12, I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.”  (NIV)


Psalm 3:3, “But you are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.”  (NIV)


Phil 1:20, “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” (NIV)


Additional Resources: 


Coming Out of the Dark, by Mary Southerland



Message of the Month Club



Intimate Moments with God, by Selected Authors



Originally published Monday, 18 July 2005.