"My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT

Years back I had a significant spiritual experience that involved a cardinal—so whenever I see this red bird, I am reminded of my Creator.

One day I was praying about a challenging situation that I was going through, and asked God if He could simply send a cardinal my way. It’s not that I doubted His presence, I was just seeking a little comfort and encouragement.

Wanting to catch a glimpse of hope, I sat near my window and prayed hard for this feathery friend to fly near me.

Two minutes of intense staring out the window. 


A few more minutes of waiting, staring, searching, hoping.


Seriously God? It’s just a bird! It’s not like I am asking for it to land on my hand, do back flips, transport food, or verbally speak to me. I just want to see a cardinal today . . . Why is this too much to ask?

After a few more minutes of open-air space, with no flight in sight, I accepted God’s answer and moved forward in my day.

Later that afternoon, it was time to pick my kids up from the bus stop. Several yards away from where I was positioned, I could see my daughter running towards me with an over-stretched smile on her face and a hidden object behind her back. 

Through strained and squinted eyes, I could see a flash of red in her hand. NO WAY—I thought to myself. 

As she approached me, my daughter held out a paper creation that she had just made that day in art class. 

“Do you know what it is, Mommy?” she asked jubilantly with wide-open eyes.

As I stared down at the red construction paper, I immediately felt a wink from God. 

“It’s a cardinal,” I said in an emotional tone.

I don’t believe it was a coincidence—that the ONE DAY I asked God to show me a cardinal is the EXACT DAY that I received one. 

I believe I prayed for reassurance, and graciously it was given . . . just not how I expected.

God could have easily sent an actual cardinal to fly past my window for a brief second. This temporary sight could have also turned into a fading memory of an answered prayer request. Instead of a fleeting moment, I now have a permanent visual reminder of God’s presence. 

Quite often in the Bible, people set up memorial stones to mark significant encounters with God. This was done in order to remember how God provided, protected, and guided His people. 

My paper construction red bird will continue to remind me of the fact that God does not always reveal the answer to my prayers when I want or how I want. Quite often He surprises me in ways that I could not imagine. 

How much better was it to be handed a cardinal to keep that day, than to briefly see one fly by? Thank goodness we do not always think alike—His plans are much grander than ours!

Dear Lord, Help us to trust in Your design and timing in our lives, especially when we are frustrated, discouraged, and tired. Your ways are always better! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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