A big forest fire burned for many days in the mountains of Yellowstone Park in USA. At last there were no more flames or smoke. Only then was the ground cool enough to walk on, so the forest rangers went up into the mountains. They needed to see how much damage the fire had done to the trees and animals. As they climbed, they saw that many trees had been burned down.
Then one of the rangers found a bird under a burnt tree. The bird was still standing up, even though it had died in the heat. The ranger was very sad to see this. He took a stick and gently pushed the bird over. Then he had a big surprise. Three tiny chicks ran out from under the dead mother-bird's wings.
How could that happened?
The mother carried them
The mother-bird knew that her young family would all be killed in the fire if they stayed in the tree. She must have carried each one to the ground at the bottom of the tree and hidden them under her wings. It was the only place low down where they would be safe – the poisonous smoke always goes upwards. There the mother-bird stayed. The heat of the fire killed her, but her chicks were safe. She could have flown to safety, but she chose to save her babies. The pain of the flames had come to her. She thought of her chicks and not herself. She was willing to die so that those who were under her wings would live.
We are kept safe
This true story reminds us of a verse in the Christians' holy book, the Bible, which says: "He will cover you with his wings, you will be safe in his care."*
This verse shows us how God looks after us and keeps us safe. But the mother-bird also reminds us of Jesus Christ. He came down to earth and was killed, even though he did nothing wrong. It was the punishment given to criminals. Jesus took the punishment (death) that we should have had for all our wrong doing. Now, if we say sorry to God, he will forgive our wrong doing (sin). Just as the mother died for her babies, Jesus died so that we can live for ever with him in his special place, heaven.
* You can find these words in the part of the Bible called the book of Psalms. It is in Psalm number 91 and verse 4