Something unusual happened on one of the recent trips from Tennessee to California. My body clock never made the transition from Eastern to Pacific time. I normally have no trouble sleeping straight through the night until daybreak, but during this particular week I awakened at 3 o'clock sharp every morning.
I decided to make the best of it by going out to my friend's living room, where I could comfortably have my morning devotions and do some stretching exercises without awakening anybody else.
The trouble with that plan was that my friend's two birds were sleeping in the living room, and turning on the light switch had the same effect as pressing the play button on a high-amp cockatiel stereo system.
To my chagrin, turning the light back off wasn't equivalent to pressing the stop button. The damage had already been done. I had roused the little songbirds from their slumber, and there was no turning back. (I was relieved to find out later that my hosts are heavy sleepers and that the early-morning concert was a private one!)
This ritual took place every morning for eight days, and during that time I learned a lot by observing the two enthusiastic amateur musicians.
My friend Donna had named the older bird Daniel because when she got him 10 years ago, she prayed that God would keep the little captive safe from the two hungry cats that shared his home. Years later Revelation, the younger bird, got his name because Donna's husband had purchased him secretly one day, and when she came home from work and found him in her office, it was indeed a revelation!
Both birds are great singers, but Daniel is undoubtedly more experienced. He has a repertoire of three songs: Here, Kitty Kitty, Dixie, and another number he composed himself that incorporates tunes his owners have whistled to him through the years. Revelation does his best to imitate his companion, but invariably he either skips a few key notes or else he gets creative and starts to slur two different songs together.
A couple of hours into my first three-song cockatiel concert, the choleric side of my personality kicked in, and it was all I could do to refrain from correcting Revelation when he strayed from the score.
On several occasions I marveled at Daniel's incredible patience. Not once did he chime in and try to correct his understudy. Instead, he calmly waited so Revelation could have his full turn in the spotlight. Another thing I thought was neat was that no matter how many times Revelation sang a song incorrectly, Daniel never forgot the proper tune.
Apparently those three songs have been so indelibly etched in his memory that even countless hours of hearing them wrong does not confuse his tiny birdbrain. He simply continues to sing the songs correctly when it's his turn to perform, perhaps confident that Revelation will improve in time.
If we could learn to treat new believers the way Daniel mentors Revelation, I bet many more people would begin imitating the Christian life!
Successful teachers know that the most effective method of instruction combines two key elements: example and practice. People can pick up a lot by watching an experienced teacher do something correctly over and over again, so demonstration is crucial. In addition, instructors must allow ample time for them to practice and make mistakes.
If you're a professed Christian, then people are watching you. The way you treat others will either help draw them to or repel them from Christ. So remember the birds, and dare to be a Daniel!
Debra Hicks edits the Inside Report for the Amazing Facts program.