Magpies and Mercy

Some creatures mentor their offspring to be wild and malevolent. Their family is ruthless. Opportunistic.

But then, that’s just the way magpies are.

A sudden flash of ebony and white warns any living thing smaller than a fox that the deadly pica hudsonia (scientific name for magpies) is on the hunt. About 180,000 magpies call (squawk) Alaska home. They share the Great Land with other merciless corvid (family) clowns, like ravens, crows, and jays.

Magpie chicks are raised in sturdy 50-pound nests and learn a dozen distinct warbles and screams. Magpies are streetwise, competing for half-eaten burgers and rice scraps in alleys. Carrion of all sorts, voles, and other birds find a place on their limitless menu, too.

Magpies are adept at spotting unprotected chicken pens, burrows, or nests. With raucous jibes, a magpie family will “break in” and devour hapless chicks, mice, or baby birds.

Is their natural instinct at work? Of course. But a morbid satisfaction also seems to reflect in their merciless eyes.

Have you dealt with someone who appears as merciless as a magpie? Me too…

Yet God’s word is clear: No human being is beyond redemption. Consider Chuck Colson of Watergate infamy. His legacy of love for incarcerated men and women continues through his organization, Prison Fellowship, long after his death.

Ever heard of Paul the Apostle? Truly unrepentant—until his epiphany on the road to Damascus. Consider people you know whom you thought would NEVER open their hearts to Christ—yet they did.

We must not be naïve: Some people will refuse to soften, and not turn to God for forgiveness. They have chosen what and whom they will be. They teach immorality and hopelessness to others, which can become a legacy far more permanent than the one written on their headstones.

Yet, we are warned not to judge (pronounce sentence on) anyone. Only God plumbs the murky depths of a human being’s psyche and soul. The most malevolent, unrepentant man or woman may suddenly ignore their natural inclinations and be born again. Jesus holds open his door of mercy—even for the merciless. They may accept God’s forgiveness and become mentors of God’s grace—the legacy that endures for eternity.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)


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