Before the Winter of 2011, the Cardinal was just another bird to me, until I read a friend's facebook status in which she wrote of hope to see a Cardinal. It was during one of the most trying times of her life. When I asked of her request, she shared that Cardinals are her way of knowing that her Dad who passed is watching her. Sure enough shortly after her request, she saw a Cardinal and was comforted. I thought of my heavenly Dad who is hanging out with her earthly Dad as we spoke. I can imagine her earthly Dad asking for the Lord to encourage this North American songbird to cross this young woman's path. It was a beautiful story of a God who hears the cries of our hearts and a young woman who is on the Lord's heart and her Father's.
A few weeks after this encounter, I went for a jog and cried out to the Lord. We were finally having a break in our long Pennsylvania winter and I was eager to get outside. In addition, the trials I had been facing were smacking me hard in the face. I cried out and cried out in the newness of Spring. I reminded myself that He is a God who hears. The funny thing is, as I jogged and prayed, I saw a Cardinal. My thoughts went to my friend and then straight to the heart of God. This Cardinal was a gentle reminder that He was hearing my prayer.
As the Winter and trials continued to stretch through March, then April, then May, the Cardinals continued to show up in my life. As I sat at my desk one afternoon, with a large window behind me, the weight of burdens weighed heavily on my heart. Tears were streaming down my face as a woman came to my desk with a request. I quickly wiped away my tears as she began her appeal. In the middle of her sentence, she stopped, looked up and said, "oh, wow, look at that Cardinal!" I turned to see the red brilliance glide past my window, settling on a tree a short distance away. I sensed the peace of God.
Not long after that, the Spring started poking her head out more, and eventually, kicked off her shoes to stay a little while. One of my favorite things about my husband is his love for birds. As soon as he could, he bought bird seed for our window sill. Quickly, we had a Male Cardinal visiting our sill everyday. It wasn't long until I heard a new song on my window sill. The Female Cardinal was also coming for food. Wow, God, you brought a husband and wife Cardinal team to my marriage room.
I have always been fascinated by the revealing of God through nature. Even in Winter, there is always hope of Spring. When something is dead, God can make it come to life. We can always look ahead with hope and anticipation when we trust God's heart.
One blogger wrote: "As we observe the cardinal – particularly against the backdrop of the stark winter months, we are reminded that even when things appear bleak or isolated, there is always the presence of beauty, hope, and love."
It has been said that the bright red Cardinal reminds us of Yeshua, whose blood covers all our sin; the sin that is so scarlet against the whiteness of the Lord, just as the Cardinal is so Scarlet against the bleak, whiteness of Winter. The Cardinal is also a symbol of "faith." This bird appears to remind us to "keep the faith," when things seem hopeless.
God has PURPOSE in ALL His Creation. When I see the Cardinal, although such a small piece of this world, I am reminded to Never Give Up! I know that someday my Spiritual Winter will cease, just as the physical has. I can hear my Savior calling through the Words of King Solomon: "My love calls to me: Arise, my darling. Come away, my beautiful one. For now the winter is past; the rain has ended and gone away. The blossoms appear in the countryside.The time of singing has come, and the turtledove's cooing is heard in our land."
"In the middle of Winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer."