God Has Friends In Low Places

The other day I was sitting out in the backyard listening to an audio book and getting a much-needed dose of vitamin D. Two Mockingbirds were darting back and forth just feet in front of me and were making so much noise that it was becoming difficult to hear my audio book. I knew that they had a nearby nest and were only trying to protect their young from a potential threat (apparently Mockingbirds don’t understand that paralyzed people in a wheelchair don’t pose a threat).

Then I saw two beautiful Bluebirds sitting in a nearby live oak tree just minding theirbluebird in tree
own business. Like me, they seemed to be doing their best to ignore the noise and the antics of the paranoid Mockingbirds. Every five minutes or so, one of the Bluebirds would fly over and land on the roof of a dilapidated birdhouse that Mary’s been meaning to replace. After observing this for almost an hour, Mary came outside and told me that the Bluebirds have a nest in that old birdhouse.


bluebird picI was thinking that there must be a serious birdhouse shortage in our area for these beautiful Bluebirds to have chosen this run-down dwelling to build a nest. Then I remembered that Jesus was born in a smelly stable. Maybe there was a pair of Bluebirds nesting in that stable too.

I had somewhat of a revelation about the beautiful and holy taking up residence in dwellings that are far beneath them. It’s the one thing that distinguishes genuine Christianity from every other belief-system that can be named; the Holy Spirit (literally) resides in the followers of Christ.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

It’s not a coincidence that Jesus was born in a place that most homeless people would have avoided. But, even if Jesus would have been born in the greatest palace on earth, it would have been far beneath Him. It’s as if God chose the lowest of places to emphasize this.

It’s also not a coincidence that we see this same pattern with the birth of the Church (Acts chapter 2). The Church began with the Holy Spirit indwelling a bunch of very ordinary men and women that were gathered together in a room. From a Holy God’s perspective, that “upper room” was a very “stable-like” scene. But even if the Holy Spirit began His work in the hearts of the holiest of men on earth, it would have been far beneath Him.

The disciples were grief-stricken after Jesus explained to them that He would have to die. He comforted them with the following words:

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (John 1:16-17)

Later Jesus told the disciples that all of them would abandon Him. Peter stated emphatically that he would die with Jesus before denying Him. We now know that, out of fear of being arrested, Peter ended up denying Jesus three times within hours of making that vow.

But after being indwelt with the Holy Spirit (the “helper” and “Spirit of truth”), this same Peter stood before thousands of the very people he once cowered before and boldly declared that Jesus is “both Lord and Messiah.”

This man that was so afraid of being associated with Jesus on the night that He was arrested that he denied even knowing Him, years later would ask to be crucified upside down because he didn’t feel worthy to die in the same manner as his “Lord and Messiah.”

Biblical knowledge is so important, but theological knowledge alone cannot transform a person the way Peter and the other disciples were transformed: only the Holy Spirit can do that. And this kind of radical transformation is the true and lasting message of the Easter story.

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11)

About Bill Sweeney

In 1996, Bill was diagnosed with ALS (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) and the doctors told him he had 3-5 years to live. He is now completely paralyzed and unable to speak, but by God’s grace, he’s still alive and through his blog shares a message of hope in Christ - Unshakable Hope!

Posted on April 1, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 142 Comments.

  1. Great story of your experience with our Loving God Bill. Keep the good fight and keep the blog going.
    Your Bro,

  2. Enjoyed your post, and can just see those birds as you described. Blessings to you!

  3. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    Beautifully said.

  4. I love bluebirds! They really brighten my day. Great observations! Thank you.

  5. Beautifully written. Thanks be to the Holy Spirit for residing within us.

  6. I finally found the comment box… Thank you, Bill, for relating the bluebird story. What a wonderful metaphor! I will remember this.

  7. Reblogged this on amanda lannon.

  8. Thank you God for the Holy Spirit, how ever low our light shines but knowing it is there brings so much comfort!

  9. Thank you Bill, for “liking”one of my writings, because through that I was able to cyber meet you. I first read “God has Friends In Low Places”, followed by your blog about you, and was blessed by both. I look forward to reading more of you, because I see such deep truths in them, within every day life, with struggles like you live with daily, and things that come into each of our lives.
    We have a close friend who suffered a massive stroke just over two years ago, and I am going to suggest she read your blog also. God’s Blessings and Strength my friend.

  10. Spring has at long last arrived! After the winter we’ve had, I can hardly believe it. I am sitting at my desk, with the windows actually open (LOL).

    The birdsong made me think of you. Often, it can seem that winter will last forever, that our trials will defeat us. True, some may last a lifetime. God may choose not to heal us. That is not an easy thing to come to terms with. But it is not the same as defeat.

    Even as we are, with all our scars showing, He can still make use of us — perhaps the more so because of our limitations. I rely on that when darkness threatens to overwhelm me.

    Well, enjoy the weather, Bill!

    Blessings always,


  11. Blessings to you during this Passover, Resurrection, Pentecost season.

  12. Really fantastic writing. I didn’t realize you were in a wheelchair also. Thank you for sharing this post – I really enjoyed reading it.

    • Thank you. I’ve had ALS for over 18 years and I’ve been confined to a wheelchair for about 17 years. God bless you as you navigate your journey in a wheelchair.

      • I think you may have told me that so I’m sorry if you’re repeating yourself. Anyway, you are an inspiration to me. Your positive attitude and focus on God for the last 18 years gives me strength and hope to move forward. Maybe do some wheelies in my chair…

      • At some point I would like to ask you questions about the technology that you use. Do you have use of your arms? Anyway, I don’t want to take up all the space on your comments page. If you are willing, please email me at terrinida@gmail.com.

        • Do you use some kind of speech-to-text software to operate your computer? I don’t have a voice so I operate my computer with eye-tracking software. It’s extremely tedious 🙂

      • I use a voice recognition software called Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I do have the eye gaze software and I also found it very tedious and tiring for my eyes. I hope it’s working well for you. And yes – I do drive my wheelchair on my own. Since I can’t use my arms I use had sensors and drive it based on the motions and movements of my head. As you can imagine it’s a real pain in my neck. I’m glad you have your wife to push you around. I’m sure she’s a hero in her own right for standing by you through thick and thin. I admire the both of you.

        • Thank you, Terri. The eye gaze system is extremely tedious and hard on the eyes, but I use it because it’s my only choice.
          My wife has been pushing me around long before I was in a wheelchair 🙂

  13. Reblogged this on Every Page Whispers His Name and commented:
    This is so simply written, but so profound.

    “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11)

  14. Wonderful insight. Thank you

  15. Wonderfully comforting and inspiring message as always, thank you Bill! And you’ve also answered a question hubby and I were asking one another recently: is there such a thing as a bluebird, or were they just made up for certain songs? I don’t believe I ever saw one when living in California! And for the record, I think your birdhouse is beautiful; I love old, well-worn and lived in homes 😉 Happy belated Easter to you and your family, God bless you always.

  16. This week I’ve also been thinking about our “temple” and why the Lord chooses to allow some to be physically lacking as well. We spent Easter with some friends yesterday who have physical issues too through no fault of their own. One is a veteran who sacrificed his well being. God could heal and make our temples beautiful and whole, but he doesn’t always do that. Your message here speaks to me and encourages me about living full of Christ regardless of the container – perhaps even because of it. Thank you. I pray you had a blessed Easter.

    • That’s awesome, Laura. I’ve thought about this many times, probably at least once a day since being diagnosed with ALS 18+ years ago. We look for simple answers, but God’s ways are (thankfully) not our ways.

  17. Thanks for your posts. Helps me to remember that He comes in and cleans my heart. I don’t have to be perfect.

  18. Oh, Bill. Once more you’ve delivered a profound and beautiful message. Often, the natural world points us toward eternal truths. There is such a temptation to draw away from God when we contemplate how unworthy we are. Yet, as you say, that is very much the point. Christ died in the knowledge of our unworthiness, and the Spirit transforms us despite it. Thank you for the reminder. God bless you and yours.

    • Amen, Anna. I don’t believe anyone can know how unworthy they are until we get a glimpse of God’s Holiness. Like Isaiah (Isaiah chapter 6), we’ll say “Woe is me…”

  19. Bill, I liked your reminder of how Christianity differs from other religions in that the Holy Spirit/God dwells in each believer. What a wonderful post your local birds inspired too. Did Mary take the pictures? Lovely touch. My husband was going to remove an old birdhouse today, and I asked if he would leave it as I’m fond of the old thing. Only bees nest in it nowadays–but it’s still charming. I’m thankful for a God who moves in and transforms our desperately wicked hearts. Peter’s story always gives me hope–as do your blogposts.

    Blessings to you both ~ Wendy ❀

    • Thank you, Wendy. Mary did take the pictures, but it was frustrating for her because the Bluebirds never sit still and the slightest noise or movement scares them away.

      • Please let her know I’m impressed with how she did. ❀ I find birds way more challenging to photograph than flowers. Moving targets can drive one crazy (butterflies aren’t easy either).

        • The problem for Mary (getting those pictures) was that, in addition to taking care of me, she works a full-time job from home. If she could have gone out and sat for an hour or so, she would have had more opportunities. She loves photography.

  20. I love this, Bill…I’ll never look at our old bird houses the same. We have 5 lined up on an old bench. From now on I’ll smile and think of your post. Thank you for sharing your wonderful inspiration.

  21. Amen! Love the photo of the dilapidated birdhouse and blue bird too. So, good to read this on Good Friday. I am always happy to receive notice of a post from you, knowing that it will feed me and motivate me. You lift us all! Praying for many blessings, like bluebirds, for you this Easter. Eileen

  22. Years ago I read somewhere that in all other religions man tries to reach God, which is impossible. Only in Christianity did God reach down to us, by sending His Son. It never occurred to me that the Holy Spirit is a second thing that sets Christianity apart, that no other religion includes a Helper that gives us strength and power and hope to live here.

    Even high places and people here would be far below Him is another new thought for me. I leave here with valuable truths again. Bill, the process of putting on here what God has taught you can’t be easy, and yet you do it for God and for us – thank you.

    • Great observations. I’ve spent countless hours studying other religions and, they might phrase it differently, but in the end your standing with God or the gods is always comparing good deeds to bad deeds – that’s religion. Christianity begins when we come to the realization that we’ll never be good enough; in our own power, we’ll never be worthy.

  23. Beautiful photos and wonderful analogies! What a blessing!!

  24. Thanks, Bill…for another inspiring message. I really love that picture of the bluebird on your birdhouse too.

  25. I can relate. Thanks! Tomorrow I’ll be posting Part 2 of my dramatization on Peter, a flawed hero (is there any other kind?), encompassing much of what you speak about above. http://mitchteemley.com/2015/03/30/confessions-of-the-apostle-peter-part-1/

  26. Amen! it is imperative that we never underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit! Thank you for sharing this and have a blessed Resurrection Sunday!

  27. I see the beauty of the Holy Spirit in your writings and thoughts—and it makes you a beautiful person whatever your illness has done to your body! Have a blessed Easter!

  28. Good observations. Enjoyed the read, and the worship that was unavoidable as I read it.
    God bless

  29. Such powerful words! How true that even the best the world had to offer would have been far beneath him. He chose to come anyway. And to in dwell our fragile ‘jars of clay’ with his Spirit. Amazing!
    Many blessings to you & your family this Easter,

  30. So beautifully expressed… Diane

  31. Bill, this is beautiful. When I read: “I had somewhat of a revelation about the beautiful and holy taking up residence in dwellings that are far beneath them.” I was startled to realize, ‘that’s me’. A dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, completely unsuitable and far beneath him. I forget in the day to day just what an unlikely miracle that is. I am humbled anew. Thank you!

  32. Hello ‘Unshakable Hope’ …. I read this article today and enjoyed its message. Years ago I did several radio programs and one of them was called: Going UPstream. In this particular broadcast I would simply enjoy interviewing others in the Body of Christ who were in Ministry, or Business, Politics, etc. I have been doing a Facebook page for a number of years that has been dedicated to sharing articles that I and others have written. I was simply wondering if you might allow me to share your article, in whole, with my FB Audience. I only have about 1400 direct readers on my list, but .. I send it out to well over 10,000 people. Please let me know… Greg LaFazia

  33. Thank you for this post. It lifted the spirits of a sister having a ‘I feel like a loser day’. Beautiful reminder! You are a gifted writer!

  34. This is such a touching post. It convicted me a little, but conviction is a good thing.


  35. I think you hit the nail on the head. 🙂 Take care and enjoy the joys of nature.

  36. Hey Bill this is such a God revelation. The Holy Spirit is present in you illuminating truth as Jesus did when He walked this earth. Thank you and have a wonder filled Easter. Blessings my friend.

  37. Nice analogy Bill. Of the bluebirds. My dad used to build rustic bluebird houses. He always said that they preferred a simple design and the older it got, the better. They are such shy birds and are slow to trust a new, fancy dwelling. It is so amazing that God CHOSE to dwell among us. Even more amazing that His Spirit indwells such houses of disrepair as our earthy vessels. Blessings on your day and thanks for the photos.

  38. Bill, I have only seen two bluebirds in my life and the thought of a pair of them flitting around in my garden brings delight to my heart! Thank you for the reminder that God has friends in low places. I am presently in one of those low places; your reminder provided much needed comfort to me. I may never see a bluebird in my garden, but oh how precious it is to abide in His Good and Sovereign Presence! Easter Blessings to you and yours . . . .

    • Thank you, Kathie. I want to put up more birdhouses in hopes of attracting more Bluebirds… I’m sorry you’re in a “low place,” but after losing your dad I’m not surprised.

  39. Even the most holy would have been beneath Him. That resonates with me today. Thank you for this post. And watch out for those mockingbird guards. Sometimes they swoop you.

  40. Awesome illustrations of God’s great love for us and what Christ gave up so we could live with Him forever. We need to be constantly reminded of the power of the Holy Spirit abiding within us. Thanks for reminding us.

  41. Excellent write up. Happy Easter!

  42. Dear Bill – This message arrived just in time to share with Edju and Adam. Please keep everyone in your prayers as we navigate through this week. Love you – Happy Easter. See you soon>

  43. What an insightful correlation you highlighted between dilapidated housing and our spirits. I need to remember: God loves to take the ordinary and transform into extraordinary–on the inside. He’s not as concerned about outward appearances. And praise God for the Easter transformation–from death to life to all who believe in Jesus. Thank you, Bill, for making me think and inspiring my spirit!

  44. I love this so much and I am so blessed by it. God loves you and I so… Thank you for being a light to someone whose life is so different from yours. And yet God causes you to shine so brightly.

  45. Reblogged this on Daddy in Heaven and commented:
    I love this. =)

  46. “…but you know Him because He abides in you.” Even though we’ve never met face to face, I’m certain I would see this in your reflection. How blessed are those who do. Hugs & Blessings to you and your loved ones this Easter Season!

    PS-In the home we just moved from this past year we placed several blue-bird boxes lining the side of our winding driveway. Your article tickled my heart remembering the joy they’d bring us in our travels to & fro. Thanks for the stroll down memory (driveway) lane!

  47. Greetings, Bill, glad to hear you were keeping company with the fowls of the air. They truly are a delight.
    I much enjoyed this message, and its title is so true. It reminded me of a recent entry on my own blog, which I thought you might enjoy. http://amendingfeast.org/2015/01/28/a-character-like-gods/

  48. Wonderful word picture and insight! In my quiet time this morning I was reminded of Jesus removing his cloak (outer garment) and wrapping himself with a towel to wash Jesus’ feet. That towel outfit was commonly used by slaves. What a contrast Jesus is in such a pleasure seeking world. Thanks for catching my attention. I love your way with words.

  49. What a beautiful explanation and so striking that the Holy Spirit resides in you my freind. Thank you and God Bless You.

  50. ” It’s as if God chose the lowest of places to emphasize this.”

    What a great post Bill, thank you!

  51. Wonderful thoughts! God’s creation can teach us so much if we’re listening. Thank you! Have a blessed day!

  52. The sublime dwells in the ridiculous, transforming it. Romans 8:11 – Amen! Thank you for sharing this simple lovely illustration of the truth of God’s love for us and in us. Happy Easter Bill, to you and your family.

  53. Tax collectors and sinners, myself included!

  54. BEAUTIFUL and Wonderful revelation. Thank you. I too am in a wheelchair with multiple diagnosed infirmities, but the Holy One of Israel, CHRIST the Lord, continues in me, His strength being perfected in my weakness. PRAISE THE LORD! Truly His grace is sufficient.

  55. Wow! Look at that flag-map —>>>>
    What a globe-trotter you are!

  56. Happy Easter to all of you! Spring is finally here and I’m glad you are able to soak up some sun and fresh air. We’ll have to get the Property Brothers on that birdhouse! 🙂

    • Happy Easter, Ed. Yes, after a long winter, the sun feels great. But too much of good thing can be bad – I got a little sunburn 🙂 The birdhouse is beyond a HGTV remodeling job.

  57. What great insights. Inspirational to say the least…Thank you. Thank YOU Jesus! We serve an Amazing God Who desires not only a relationship with us but a relationship through us…to impact the world like YOU do through this blog.

  58. Such an Excellent Word! Thank you!

  59. Reblogged this on Writers Of Faith.

  60. Great post.

  61. Debbie Johnson

    I love your blog and enjoy reading each new post! This one is a great reminder for us all. I love your analogy of the run down bird house. Thanks, Bill!

  62. Thank you for the re-blog, Bruce.

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