Hummingbird landing on a feeder
Encouragement

Nectar in the Fridge

by Barb Fox

“Mike, look!”

A magical creature hovered over the red feeder, its wings a blur as it flitted like an elegant dancer. Mike manipulated the camera through his phone, waiting for the perfect shot. The hummingbird dipped his beak into the hole, extended his long tongue to lap up the sugar water, then flitted away.

“Got it!” Mike announced.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, I got bored staring out my windows at the same scenery every day. I thought hummingbirds would brighten the day, so I bought a feeder, filled it with sugar and water, then hung it under our covered porch. A week went by and I saw no activity, but I continued putting fresh nectar in the feeder every few days.

Finally, my first visitor arrived. Now these precious little birds bring joy into my life every day.

During those same weeks, I had a dry spell in my quiet times and recognized that God had placed delicious morsels in the Bible for me to enjoy, but I was like the hummingbirds. I often ignored God’s nourishment for days at a time. Feeding these hummingbirds has helped me recognize ways I can feed more consistently on God’s Word.

Prepare Ahead of Time

First, to attract hummingbirds, the sugar water needs to be replenished every few days. When I thought about replacing the water the first few weeks, the timing never seemed convenient, so I started procrastinating. One day I finally grabbed a Sharpie, wrote “Nectar” on a Mason jar, then placed the container in the refrigerator. When I’m doing dishes or have a few extra minutes, I fill the jar with the prescribed one part sugar and four parts water. Now the nectar is always ready when it’s time to refresh the feeder.

Spending time with God is like that. Even though I mean to do it and want to do it, it often feels like it will be too much trouble to get started. But I’ve found that if I prepare ahead of time, I refill my spiritual cup more regularly.

Even Jesus made preparations.

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. (Matthew 14:22-23 NIV*)

Jesus arranged His social schedule, removed distractions, dismissed the crowd, and climbed a hill to prepare Himself for a meaningful time with His Father.

We, too, benefit by choosing a time and place where we can focus. I’ve chosen to do my quiet times in the morning when fewer distractions vie for my attention. Earlier in the year I printed a daily Bible reading schedule, and I keep it tucked in my Bible. A sticky note marks my current page. Before I go to bed, I place my Bible and highlighters beside my placemat. In the morning, I rarely finish eating breakfast before I start reading—all I have to do is open my Bible. Then, once I start, I rarely want to stop.

Prepare a Clean Heart

At least once a week, I wash my hummingbird feeder to keep it from growing black mold. The mold would destroy the nourishing properties of the nectar. In the worst case, it could even make the birds sick, and they surely wouldn’t continue to entertain us with their aerobatics on our front porch.

Our quiet times benefit from cleaning, too. God asks us to come before Him with a pure heart.

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (2 Corinthians 7:1)

Before reading and studying the Bible, it’s best to take a little time for cleansing and forgiveness. It minimizes opportunities for black molds of bitterness or green molds of jealousy to contaminate my spiritual food. It may be possible to have a productive quiet time without doing a heart-cleansing once in a while, but this step still needs to be a regular part of my preparations if I want to continue enjoying the benefits of reading God’s Word.

We Plant. God Provides the Harvest.

I wanted to attract hummingbirds; Mike wanted to capture them on camera. To reach these goals, we invested in a time of planting. I filled the feeder, and Mike set up a tripod and camera. Before long, we marveled at the harvest.

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. (I Corinthians 3:6-7)

This verse reminds us of the natural order of reaping fruit: plant, then harvest. Too many times, I have communicated to God, “Please give me a harvest. Help me overcome this particular crisis, and I promise next season I’ll put some seeds in the ground.” I’m beginning to recognize that we worship God at least as much when we plant as when we reap. Changing my alarm clock to go off fifteen minutes earlier is worship if the intent is to spend the extra time with God. Grabbing a pen and my journal is worship that says, “I expect You to speak to me today.” Planting is an act of worship, and it pleases God. It says, “I know that You are doing a good work in me, and You will bring it to completion.”

Enjoy the Harvest

I cannot make hummingbirds visit my front porch. But when they come, I revel in their antics. Mike cannot ask them to pose for a picture. But when he captures a good shot, his natural response is to share it on social media.

Likewise, I cannot snap my fingers and immediately become the perfect Proverbs 31 woman. But when I notice a change for the good, it’s time to celebrate. The Holy Spirit plows spiritual seeds into our hearts during our quiet times. These investments will lead to a bountiful harvest. In the coming days, we may see growth in our patience or self-control. When we notice maturing fruit, it’s time to rejoice. Enjoy the harvest and savor its goodness. There will be time later to do more planting and watering. All the fruit doesn’t ripen at the same time.

Creating an environment that attracts birds to my front porch will allow me to enjoy the pleasure of their presence every day. I also want to create an environment that makes morning quiet times attractive to me so I can experience a deeper appreciation of God’s presence each day. If I can convince myself to spend a couple minutes a week mixing sugar water and putting it in the refrigerator, I can certainly take a minute each evening to put my Bible on the breakfast table.

Once the seeds have been planted, God will see that the fruit of the Spirit grows and matures in me. Then I’ll get to feast on that fruit every day.

Prayer:

Lord, help me see the beauty of planning ahead. Forgive me for thinking that reaping is more important than planting. If I plant seeds by preparing to spend time alone with You, You will grow these seeds into delicious fruit in my life. Help me look forward to the delights of tomorrow.

Questions:

  1. What do you do in dry spells to motivate yourself to be in God’s Word?
  2. What is your favorite time and place for your quiet time?
  3. What could you do the night before to prepare ahead of time?
  4. What fruit is God maturing in you today (Galatians 5:22-23)? Are you celebrating that fruit and enjoying it?

*All Scripture verses are taken from the NIV.
**This excerpt comes from Feed Your Soul with the Word of God, Collection 2 (Buford, Georgia: Lighthouse Bible Studies, 2023), 24-28.  

3 Comments

  • Felicia Harris-Russell

    Love both the spiritual and natural applications of this message. And, I love hummingbirds too!

  • Katherine Pasour

    My hummingbirds have been slow to join me this year. We recently washed the feeders and added fresh nectar. Now they’re back! Thank you for this refreshing post with its wonderful application to our prayer and study time with God.

  • Krystal Weeks

    Barbara,
    Thank you for reminding us how sweet it is to spend quiet time with God listening to His words of love.

    Belated Happy Birthday! 🎈
    Krystal

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