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Pleasure Dome Thunder BW

Plovers and Guinea Fowls

Saturday, 4 April 2020, 05:45 — I was awoken, way too early, by the plovers screeching on the lawn outside our bedroom window. In the local Afrikaans language, these birds are called “kiewiet,” and their more formal name is Crowned Lapwing. It wasn’t their characteristic territorial defense alarm, but just them calling to each other. They obviously haven’t yet mastered the art of silent communication. As I lay in my bed, one sounded off with a penetrating wail close to our window, swiftly echoed by another a little further off.
Incessant sleep saboteurs!

I still had about two hours of rest awaiting me. Without a care, they continued their aural assault—shrill, feathered alarms without a snooze button! Divine intervention was necessary. I asked God to please silence the birds outside.

It took a few moments for the abrupt silence to register in my ringing head, followed by calm relief. Before dozing off, I waited for one of them to squawk and reveal their rebellion to supreme authority . . . not a sound. Just blissful peace and quiet.

Sunday, 12 April 2020, 05:25 — The birds woke me again, much too early. Today is my day to sleep in, but those plovers just keep on and on. Briefly, I try thinking the best of them. Perhaps they’re trying to help in my quest to wake up earlier. Thanks, but that’s for weekdays.

Through my drowsiness, I asked God to please silence them. He answered: “First go to the bathroom and then I will silence them.”

As I shuffled to the bathroom, the birds persisted with their shrill calls. However, they instantly ceased the moment I returned and sat on the bed. Prolonged silence ensued, allowing me to resume my much-needed peaceful sleep. Once again, God kept His Word.

Thursday, 6 August 2020, 05:20 — A cacophony of plover screams dredged me up from deep sleep until I surfaced, partially awake. Through the noisy raid, the only thought I could form was: “Lord, please silence those birds.” Just before the word “birds” was fully thought out, perfect silence fell outside. I was surprised, since my request had been shamefully tinged with flecks of doubt. God is good. I lay there, utterly astonished at His speed in answering my prayer with action. He does indeed know our needs before we ask.

I strained my head over bundled winter blankets to glimpse the glaring red alarm clock digits . . . 05:20. My neck relaxed with relief. As I resumed my slumber, thoughts stirred me: Why does the bird alarm always ring around this time? There’s a pattern developing here. Last night I adjusted my alarm from 05:30 to 06:00 for extra rest—ultimately futile. Was it time to get up and do some writing? “Yes,” came the answer.

At this point I was fully awake. My stealthy exit from beneath the duvet brought me upright next to my bed, my wife sound asleep, as hoped. In the dark, the red glowed 05:26. Time to work. As I type this sentence at 06:26, the plovers have since remained silent. Around 07:00, the guinea fowls uttered a short screech outside, followed briefly by a plover at 07:05. I’ve enjoyed a quiet, productive morning.

Monday, 19 October 2020, 05:00 — The clock’s red digital readout displayed 05:00, an hour before my tablet’s alarm was set to go off. I had been awake for at least 20 minutes, bothered by unusually warm weather and unceasing guinea fowl calls on this side of the house. I turned my mind to ask God to silence the bird, but hesitated. “What if this bird would not be silenced and the previous track record of God silencing birds three times within three requests no longer stood?”

This thought troubled me as I entered the bathroom. Instantly another thought surfaced and that’s what I asked God: “Lord, please move this noisy bird away from my window so that I cannot hear it.” Within seconds of my prayer, the direction of the sound changed. As I washed my hands less than a minute later, I heard the calls moving around the house. The noise receded even further as I walked to my bed. I lay down while the disturbance became faint as the bird moved further away into the distance on the two hectare smallholding where we reside. A mere minute later there was perfect silence. Once again amazed and thankful, I settled in for another hour of sleep.

Just then, the plight of a lady who had just days ago suffered a stroke, came to mind. I prayed for her in peace, until my alarm plucked me out of bed nearly an hour later. Using one of His amazing creatures, God had awakened me for prayer. Using my desire for further sleep, God created another opportunity for me to testify about how He leads us in prayer. He also showed concern about His reputation, as He led me to pray in wisdom for the noisy bird to move away instead of having the bird silenced like before.

Tuesday, 20 October 2020, 03:02 — With the alarm clock’s screen flashing the incorrect time, I clicked my tablet’s screen on to get an accurate reading. The previous afternoon we suffered a power failure during a violent freak windstorm. Somewhere in the night the power company workers labored while most of us slept. I had been slowly dredged up from deep sleep over several annoying minutes by the raucous hacking voice of a plover just outside my window.

After seeing how early it was, and instantly calculating just how much further sleep awaited, I asked God: “Lord, will this bird be silenced?” Not even a moment later, His reply came: “Yes, it will.” Pushing forward with my predictable agenda, I followed with a rather blunt, but drowsy: “Then please silence it.”

As I walked to the bathroom, the plover walked off in the opposite direction, it’s calls quickly decreasing in volume. Upon my return to bed, I heard it only slightly; the sound low enough not to disturb a sleeping soul. Except, I was awake and it still bothered me, the selfish complaint in my thoughts silently addressed to ‘Top Management.’ The plover was promptly informed that merely walking off was not enough, and the bird’s calls abruptly ceased. The instant silence startled me, leaving me perfectly awake and ready to pray for several people and other matters of importance.

Sunday, 25 October 2020 — It took a flock of raucous birds to awaken me this morning. By the time I was roused, the cacophony of guinea fowl sounds was close to deafening. Our alarm clock reported the time as 05:55—so far, a reasonable stretch of sleep. However, being a Sunday, my hopes of sleeping in were keen, even garnished with fancies of a meaningful pre-breakfast dream.

Can God silence an entire flock of guinea fowl? Despite the obvious answer, petty doubts shunted my thinking to formulate a dead-end prayer: “Lord God, please make me fall asleep through all this noise.” His instant reply was negative: “You will not sleep through this.”

After a wide awake visit to the bathroom, despite signs to the contrary, I got back into bed. Then, as I settled onto my pillow, the silence outside dawned on me. The whole guinea fowl flock was hushed! Still doubting the situation, at a time of day when these birds were loudly active, I lay there awaiting their clamorous chorus to again erupt at any moment. Nothing but a few suppressed coos confirmed their nearby presence.

Instead of answering my doubtful mind, God had answered the desire of my heart: silencing an entire flock of guinea fowl so I could sleep. With that, He gave my continued slumber a green light, followed by a slow, gentle, peaceful drifting away, plus an adventurous seaside dream to fertilize my future plans. With body and soul well nourished by 8 AM, the task of pulling espresso shots—the essence for two sublime cappuccinos—was performed with glee.

Tuesday, 14 December 2021 — The piercing sounds of guinea fowl squawks awakened me at 03:17. A flock had chosen a large tree close to our house for the night. I had contended with their noise during an outdoor conversation with my son just after sunset.

I thought of asking God to silence them. Then I interrupted myself with a most silly reason: “What if God doesn’t silence the birds and it messes up my testimony track record?”

At that moment the fowls fell dead silent in an instant. For a moment the incredible silence hung in the air like an accusation. Then God spoke: “I know your thoughts before you ask.”

Saturday, 12 February 2022, 05:05 — Some hours before the 07:30 alarm, I half awoke, pressed to abandon my bed. A plover caused continual commotion outside as I lumbered to the bathroom. While there, I asked the Lord to please quiet the bird. Approaching my bed, silence evidenced the plover’s improved behavior, with further sleep now a possibility. Pulling back the mosquito net to enter my sleep bubble, a second plover swooped through the morning air as its screams assaulted me in arcs of varying intensity and tone; a familiar territorial defense severely amplified at this hour.

I made an appeal to God: “What gives this bird the right?”

My question asserted my right to peaceful sleep, condemning such blatant disorderly conduct. The great outdoors fell into abrupt and prolonged silence. However, sleep evaded me for about an hour. The desired silence hung there, taunting me, and so did my wandering thoughts. The time was used to pray, and eventually sleep. Upon awaking I heard the plovers outside uttering a few restrained chirps, maintaining their civil behavior.

While pulling two espresso shots, I can’t shake the idea that at 5 AM the raucous birds were not unruly. There’s a strong impression they were obedient instruments used by One who desires me awake to make much more of each day. Carpe diemseize the day! In which case, I’ve been erroneously directing my indignation at these innocent birds while ignoring God’s creative wake-up calls, orchestrated for my benefit and—quite likely—the doing of His will. Come to think of it, I have asked Him to help me awake earlier in order to do more productive writing. Silly me.

These were the only eight times I have ever in my life asked God to silence noisy birds for me. Why is this significant? If someone’s sleep was bothered by birds a hundred or a thousand times, each time praying for silence, and only eight of those times the fowls went silent, we may reason that—instead of God—mere chance was at play. In my case the count is eight out of eight times. Every single time God was called upon, the birds were silenced. Calculate the odds of this happening without divine action.