Good News, vol. 17, no.2, Feb 1926
The Fifth Sparrow
Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings?"
And not one of them is forgotten before the face of God," (Gr.) (Luke 12: 6.)
It was a beautiful winter day. I was sitting on the verandah of a Southern hotel, enjoying the sunshine and sky. Suddenly I became conscious of the swift flight o'( name small object before my eyes. Then came a dull thud as of something falling. There before my eyes, not ten feet away, lay the crumpled body of a sparrow. He turned upon his back. His little claws stretched appealingly toward the sky. There was a convulsive shiver, as though in pain. Then the tiny eyelids closed over the death-dimmed eyes. A quick, short gasp, and all was over. A tell-tale spot of crimson on th« little grey breast gave the story of the tragedy. His swift flight through the air had evidently brought him into a death collision with a pole or buttress and his sparrow life had been the price. It was only a passing incident, this death of a tiny sparrow. Seemingly no one but myself, sitting there alone, had noticed it. But like a flash came to mind a wondrous text, with its marvellous truth—
"Not a sparrow falleth without your Father."
I was overwhelmed with the thought of how far we failed to believe in, and realise, the tender care of the God of the universe over the tiniest and most insignificant objects of His creation, and much more over the most trivial and passing affairs in the lives of His own dear children.
"Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?" (Matt. 10:29)
"Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings?" (Luke 12.6)
Have you ever noted the Master's mathematics in these two sparrow texts? The sparrow was sold as an article of food in the Palestine markets. So cheap was the little the little bird that two of them were sold for the paltry pittance of a farthing. Naturally four of them would be sold for two farthings. But so insignificant were they in the sight of the vendor that, when a buyer came along with two farthings, the seller threw in an extra one, giving five for two, instead of four. Yet of this extra sparrow, almost worthless in the sight of the vendor, the Lord utters this wonderful word (Luke 12: 6).
"Not two of them is forgotten before the face of God."
We hnve been missing a wondrous truth. It is this. The God of the universe is also the God of the tiny sparrow. As that sparrow is ever before the face of God and in His tender care, so the most trivial details of our lives are ever present, unforgotten, and tenderly cared for before the face of our Father in heaven. He wants us to bring every such detail, however insignificant in Him happy confidence that He is ever watching and waiting to meet our every need, however humble. The God who has wrought for us the miracle of salvation is the God who would work for us every day and hour of our lives the ever-recurring miracle of the daily, tender, minute care of each detail of our care-filled lives, and would make them to be as care-free and restful in Himself as that of a sunny-faced, artless happy child. Let us run through His blessed Book and note how many little things are, like the sparrow, unforgotten before the face of God. Notice first:—
The Unforgotten Coin.
"Go thou to the sea, and cast an hook and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money; that take and give unto them for me and thee." (Matt 17:27) Rut there was no money wherewith to pay it. That seemed a small matter for God to be interested in.
Peter was in financial straits. He had a tax to pay. But there was no money wherewith to pay it. That seemed a small matter for God to be interested in.
Yet the God of the fifth sparrow was there. His face was turned toward His troubled child. And straightway He wrought a wondrous miracle to meet his money-need.
I have a beloved friend who was rushed to a hospital for a critical operation. He had lived for thirty years upon a salary, and never expected to be supported in any other way. But it happened that he had just resigned his position to accept another. He was, therefore, caught between two salaries. That is—his first salary had ceased, and his second had not yet begun. Naturally he faced the crisis with some trepidation, for his hospital bills would total a thousand dollars. How he could meet these and other needs, with no salary, was indeed a perplexing problem. Mark what occurred. There came to him first a gift of two hundred dollars from a group of friends. A second gift followed from another friend. Then another, and still others. By the end of his stay in the hospital he had received from various sources fifteen hundred dollars, amply sufficient for all his needs. All this with not a word of appeal to human help; no knowledge of his precise need among the separate givers; nor any concord of action among them. Someone may say it was all an accident. But if it was why did the same accident never once occur in thirty years previous? And why did it occur a dozen times within a period of a couple of months? And why did it cease at once when the necessity ceased? There is only one answer to the believer. The God of the fifth sparrow was watching over His child, meeting all his needs in the very nick of time, and with a marvellous, loving precision that knew no such thing as accident.
"And he will himself show you a large upper room furnished and ready: and there make ready for us. And the disciples went forth, and came, into the city, and found as he had said unto them. . . " (Mark 14: 15-16.)
Most of us do not think of God as interested in His children's house-renting and room-hunting, with their perplexities and difficulties. But He is. And here we see Him, in the most beautiful way, directing and guiding the disciples. They needed a room for the Passover feast. He sends the "man with the pitcher" as the token of His guidance. They follow him, and find a "large upper room furnished and ready" even "as He had said unto them." It was the God of the fifth sparrow again. His face was turned in watchful and loving care even toward so small a need in their lives as a room.
Years ago, utterly broken in body, I landed one summer at early dawn in a Canadian fishing village. Staggering down the sidewalk I stopped at the little hotel to inquire for a room. Every room was taken. It was a keen disappointment for a sick man. Sitting down on a great rock outside the hotel I began to pray. I reminded the Lord of my weakness and helpless dependence upon Him to supply my urgent need for a place to rest during the summer. I asked Him to show me a room that would meet that need. Rising, I started down the sidewalk toward the village. I had gone only a few yards when I ran upon a white-haired, benign-faced old fisherman, standing in front of his modest little home. "Would you tell me where I could find a room, sir?" said I. Motioning me to follow him, the old man led the way upstairs to a modest little bedroom, where I settled down for the summer. Day after day he was wont to put me in his little boat and sail me about the bay until life and health began again to come back. For fifteen summers I came back to that same little room—finding in it a haven of rest and quiet. To me my white-haired old fisherman friend was literally God's "man with the pitcher"—and the little upper room was as really sent to me by the God of the fifth sparrow as was the room to which He had so clearly led His own disciples.
—James H. McConkey.