Can you hear me now?

By Dr. John Ed Mathisonjohn ed
Executive Director
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries

Earl Andrews was the Senior Chaplain at the West Point Academy.  Upon his retirement, he came to Montgomery, and I had the privilege of working with him at Frazer for many years.   Earl told some great stories. 

One I’ll never forget was about a woman who went to a pet shop and bought a parrot.  The pet store owner assured her that the parrot could talk.  She carried the parrot home, but he never said a word.  She came back to the pet store the next day and complained about his not talking.  The owner said he would talk if he had a mirror in his cage so he could look at himself.  She bought a mirror and put it in the cage, but the parrot still didn’t talk.

 She came back the next day and complained.  The pet store owner said he needed a ladder in the cage so he could climb.  That would induce him to talk.  She put a ladder in the cage, but nothing happened.  The next day the pet store owner said the parrot would talk if he could play with a tennis ball in the cage.  She got the ball, but nothing happened.  He suggested that the parrot needed a swing so he could relax and exercise.  She bought a swing for the cage, but the parrot still didn’t talk. 

The next day the parrot died.  The lady brought the dead parrot back to the pet store.  The man apologized and asked the lady if the parrot ever said a single word.  She replied, “Yes, just before he died, the parrot talked.  He said, ‘Don’t they have any food at that pet store?’”

I laughed a lot when Earl would tell that story.  It also made me think about some important life lessons in that story about what is really important in life.

God has a plan and purpose for each of us.  Jesus came that we might have life and have it in abundance (John 10:10).  The Bible gives the perfect recipe for life through Jesus.

 But we try to find our joy and fulfillment in the wrong ways.  Like that parrot, we put a mirror in front of us to see how good we look and how we can improve our outward appearance.  We think that fulfillment and joy come in our physical appearance.  We spend a lot of money trying to look better.  It doesn’t “help us talk.” 

We try to climb the ladder of success.  We work hard going up one rung to another.  We want to get ahead of everybody else.  Somebody said that we climb the ladder of life, and when we get to the top we discover that it’s not leaning against anything!   Ladder-climbing doesn’t “help us talk.”

We also think we can find joy and fulfillment if we can play ball, and if we can excel in some kind of athletic accomplishments.  In today’s culture, some schools have over 60% of their students playing on some school team.  That’s good, but winning state championships and becoming most valuable players won’t bring that joy.  Trophies tarnish and silver platters grow dull.

Some people think happiness will come from playing on a swing.  Young people think swinging is the key.  You can visit nightclubs, be with the “in group,” and try to live a lavish lifestyle, but it still won’t “help you talk.”

No mirrors or ladders or balls or swings will bring us joy.  Joy comes when we submit to God’s will and allow ourselves to be fed by God’s word and God’s values and God’s plan and purpose for our life.  Don’t be like that pet store owner and the woman who tried everything to help the parrot talk – except to feed him – which was what he really needed.

 God has a lot of “talking” for you and me to do.  Stay focused on and practice God’s purpose and plan for your life.  Surrender to that plan – feed on it – then start talking!

 What is your TQ – Talk Quotient?

John Ed’s blog posts appear in For His Glory each week.1
Contact: JAM Executive Suite 4,4131 Carmichael Road, Montgomery, AL 36106 Phone: 334-270-2149 Email:info@johnedmathison.org1
Listen to John Ed Mathison's one-minute daily devotional on Facebook. and click “PLAY" on the audio YouTube in order to listen.  Or you can go to his ministry page at

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About Steven Sawyer

God blessed me with the gift of writing. Mom told me I wrote paragraphs in second grade when others were learning to write sentences. I spent more than three decades in professional writing gigs. For the past eight years I've combined my passion for writing with my love for the Lord. He and I write a Christ-centered, family-friendly blog to glorify God Monday-thru Friday at My wife and I have four grown children and two precious granddaughters we co-parent with their mom. I'm a Galatians 2:20 disciple of Christ seeking to allow Christ to live His life in me, through me, and as me.

3 thoughts on “Can you hear me now?

  1. Oookaay I’m back. My Wednesdays are my “Wednesdays with Sophia” we have baked together and built tents together and now that her two brothers are out of school we all share our Wednesdays and end up at the pool. Crazy. A little twister came through!! I had to help the little girl who was the lifeguard of the day hold down her canopy. Luckily I noticed that the top was held down by velcro so said… “I have an idea…” and we took off the tent. A little too late the frame was pretty mangled. I don’t think they can save it!
    So anywaaaay, I loved the story about forgetting to feed the bird!!!! And your metaphor about really not needing the mirror and the swing and the ladder! I can relate a lot currently and needed the reminder to go find what is necesarry… the real food!


    • Thanks for your comments, Diana. John Ed is a fantastic story teller. I’ve heard him preach sermons over the years that were mostly stories. He has a gift for telling stories that embellish the points of his messages. He was my pastor for 14 years, the best pastor I have ever known. His dad retired as a Methodist ministry at the mandatory age of 70. He then became the chaplain in his retirement in Panama City, Florida until his death at 96. When John Ed retired he started his John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries and now speaks and teaches all over the world. Once each week he writes the devotionals from his ministry that I publish on FHG. He’s been doing it for years and has never missed a week. This year he had major leg surgery and was in rehab and therapy for three weeks. He wrote devotionals for the weeks he was out that we published on our blog.


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