From Kenya: The Parable of the Dove

Has God ever used something seemingly mundane to teach you a valuable lesson? This tail-feathered tale about trust comes to us from Barbara Pinkley, who serves at the Tenwek Hospital School of Nursing in Kenya:

“Have you ever had a surprise visit?  One you did NOT expect, but one you learned lessons from?

On the evening of August 29th 2014, I was sitting in my living room marking some nursing school exams and all of a sudden I heard a noise come down my chimney into my fireplace! It was a DOVE, frantically flapping its wings–certainly NOT a sign of peace! I think I was as surprised as the dove was, that it had found itself trapped in my fireplace!

poor bird!

Poor bird!

This was certainly an unintended visit . . . NOT where the dove had intended to be at ALL!  Now the question was how to get the dove OUT of my fireplace (which had a screen in front of it), without injuring the bird or having it haphazardly fly out and knock things over OR off the wall—since it was a big bird! My idea was to get a laundry basket, move the fireplace screen slightly to one side, catch the bird in the basket and take it outside to freedom. However, when I put the basket next to the fireplace screen, the bird became frantic and flapped its wings—feathers flying everywhere! Then when I pulled the fireplace screen aside, oops! The bird flew out ABOVE the basket and started flying around the room! Hmmm! I quickly decided to turn off the light.

However when I turned off the light, I suddenly realized the bird wasn’t flying anymore! In fact, in the semi-darkness, I saw that the dove was sitting very still on the back of my couch. I even touched it and it didn’t move! I opened my living room door, turned on the porch light and pushed the bird toward the light! It “cannon-balled” out the door to freedom and landed in the grass near my porch—and was kind of in a daze for a while! I think we both were wondering if it had injured itself from all it’s flapping during its unexpected visit inside my fireplace!

By the way, the dove has not been back for a repeat visit since!

By the way, the dove has not been back for a repeat visit since!

Soon after the dove’s exit, my neighbor, Annette (who thought I had “thrown” the bird outside), came and told me that if I ever had a bird trapped in my house again, all I would have to do is to gently throw a tea towel over its head and it would immediately be still—because birds don’t fly if they can’t see! Then with its eyes covered, I could simply pick up the bird and take it outside. So, actually by turning out the light, the darkness had caused the bird to be still. Amazing!

Often I learn some of my best lessons from things that happen in my daily life experiences, so I stopped to think about what I could learn from the surprise visit from the dove:

The Parable of the Dove: Often we are like that dove! We become frantically distressed when we find ourselves in an unexpected situation—where we had NEVER intended to be—certainly NOT on our agenda! God wants to help us, protect us, remind us of His love and take us to freedom.

However, when God’s help comes our way, we often frantically resist in fear of harm instead of realizing freedom is coming our way! Instead of allowing Him to gently throw his blanket of Peace over us so that we will be still and He can easily pick us up and take us to freedom, we frantically “flap around” in our unexpected “prison” adding injury to our misery of being where we don’t want to be. In those “unexpected” situations God wants us to remember that He loves us and is there for us and we can trust Him—even when we are scared and don’t understand what is happening! God wants us to remember that we can TRUST Him in those times of distress. (Psalm 46:10a: “Be STILL and know that I am God.” NIV)

Friday night (September 19th) I had the opportunity to share during the Friday evening Christian Union meeting at Tenwek School of Nursing on the topic of TRUST. I sensed God’s direction as I shared many things, including some ideas from Linda Dillow’s book, Calm My Anxious Heart. Yes, we CAN trust God with the many “What Ifs” and “If Onlys” in our lives that can so easily take away our peace.

Barbara Pinkley shared the lessons she learned after her visit from the dove with nursing students.

Barbara Pinkley shared the lessons she learned after her visit from the dove with nursing students.

But—we can only be free to entrust things of value (e.g. our lives, our concerns and problems) to Someone we know and have a relationship with—who we CAN trust. At the end of my sharing time, I told the nursing students the Parable of the Dove, reminding us all that God is there for us and we can trust HIM to handle our unknowns, our “What Ifs” and our “If Onlys” as we learn to totally surrender them to HIM.”


“I don’t know what unexpected things have recently come into YOUR life, but I am praying you will give them to Jesus and sense Him at work as you trust HIM—even when you don’t feel like it, even when you don’t understand it and even when you don’t know what will happen.  He is there for YOU! I will be praying for you and appreciate your prayers for me as we learn to surrender our unknowns to HIM. You may be just as amazed as the dove was, to realize that the first step to freedom was simply being still!”

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