If the Son has set you free, you are free indeed. (John 8:36)

Overnight, the temperatures had dropped. I awoke to frost on the ground — a good morning for a fire, I’d thought. But the morning slipped away, and the idea was soon forgotten.

My mom called, and we chatted for a few minutes. As we talked, I heard a strange sound — one I’d heard before, though not once yet this season. “Mom, I’ve got to go,” I said. “I think there’s a bird in our fireplace.”

We hung up, and I stooped to look through the smudged glass to see if a bird had somehow made its way down the flue and into the stove. Several seasons ago, we’d ordered and then installed a screen to keep this from happening, but we were told there was still a slight chance a bird would find its way into the warmth of our home, especially on cold winter days. Sure enough, the sound I heard was a little bird — some sort of wren, I believe. I could see its tail feathers against the dirty glass.

My mind raced. I wanted to try and release it — to set it free — but I knew that, to open the door to retrieve it meant it would likely fly out into my living room. But I had no choice, so I slipped on a big pair of work gloves and slowly cracked the door. The little bird blinked and, like a shot, flew out into the room — straight for one of the windows. It banged against the glass several times, then flew to another window, chirping its displeasure. Quietly, I walked toward it, gloved-hands extended. How scary I must have seemed, still dressed in pjs, wearing gloves. It darted to another window, hitting the glass in its attempt to find freedom. 

Finally it grew tired and came to rest on the window sill. I prayed, “O Lord, help me catch it so I can set it free.”

The little bird blinked at me, its beak parted as it breathed heavily. I came up slowly, my hands moving in on either side. It didn’t fly, and I was able to close my hands around it and gently hold it as I walked to the door. It didn’t flap its wings one time as I walked, which is what I feared. I knew it was cupped just tight enough to keep it secure, yet not cause it harm. One abrupt flutter of its wings would startle me, and the process would have to begin again. 

I pushed the door open with my elbow and walked outside into the sunlight, Kneeling down, the little bird still in my grasp, I released all pressure. It immediately flew into the late morning blue. 

And I praised God, proclaiming, “Thank you, Lord. Thank you for helping me set this little one free.”

And my heart understood. I, too, have been saved from captivity…

Indeed, free to fly.