“West…toward the setting sun, near the great trees.”
We were waiting for the restaurant to open, and were sitting on the grand, covered porch looking out at the beautiful Colorado scenery. There were several bird feeders hanging from the porch roof, and my wife and I were entertained by a typically bold Clark’s Nutcracker. We both looked away for a moment, and when we glanced back at the feeder, there nibbling suet was a bird that looked like a feathered sunset. Its head was a bright orange-red; its underside was bold yellow; and its back was black mixed with yellow and white. Though I had never before seen one, I knew instantly that it was a Western Tanager, the “cover bird” of one of my favorite bird books.
The Western Tanager is one of a large group of birds that gets its family name from tanagra, the name given these birds by the Tupi tribe of the Amazon basin. The Western Tanager is one of four tanager species that migrates as far north as the United States. They are found west of the Great Plains, or as today's verse says, "West...toward the setting sun, near the great trees." That verse is part of a larger passage that contains instructions for receiving God’s promises. “You are about to…take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you. When you have taken it over and are living there, be sure that you obey all the decrees and laws I am setting before you today” (Deuteronomy 11:31-32). We have been given many promises in God’s Word. Sometimes the fulfillment of these promises may seem far off—as far away as the “west…toward the setting sun.” However, God has told us in Jeremiah 29:11, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’” Our job, according to today’s passage, is to obey God. God’s job is to fulfill His promises. Trust Him to do just that. Along the way you might even get to see a few Feathered Sunsets.
Heavenly Father, as we observe the sun rise and set each day, help us to remember that as we obey your Word, you will honor your promises. Amen.