Legend of the Thorn Bird

Legend of the Thorn Bird

By: Susan Deborah Schiller

We all are in the process of dying, from the moment we are born. Whether long or short, may we sing our life song with a passion that stirs His heart – the one who chose us to be His own.

“There is a legend about a bird which sings just once in its life, more sweetly than any other creature on the face of the earth. From the moment it leaves the nest it searches for a thorn tree, and does not rest until it has found one. Then, singing among the savage branches, it impales itself upon the longest, sharpest spine. And, dying, it rises above its own agony to out-carol the lark and the nightingale. One superlative song, existence the price. But the whole world stills to listen, and God in His heaven smiles. For the best is only bought at the price of great pain… or so says the legend."

"The thorn bird with the thorn in it's breast, it follows an immutable law; it is driven but it knows only to impale itself and die singing. At the very instant the thorn enters there is no awareness in it of the dying to come; it simply sings and sings until there is not the life left to utter another note. But we, when we put the thorns in our breasts, we know. We understand. And still we do it. Still we do it…" — Source
"Father, I ask for your greatest tests," I prayed in 1998. I had a sense of God's justice system, how He rewards us with two mercies for every woe. I was leading all-night prayer meetings, at that time. The church was my refuge – the only place where I could be the real me. At home I was living with a sociopath.
Every day was mere survival and in my gut I knew there had to be something more than being trapped in a living nightmare. Church leaders were the prison guards, constantly teaching, "Submit to your husband, submit to authority, obey your leaders, and have more grace." I had been doing that for nearly 20 years and there was not much left of me. I was dying inside.
"I have a better plan for you life," said Jesus, pointing to a safer position farther back in the ranks of a great army. He really didn't want me to suffer what He saw ahead of me.
"No, please. I want to be right next to You! I want to see what You see, hear what You hear, and follow You." I was desperate. "I'm willing to be a woman of bad reputation!" I upped the anty because I knew I was dying anyway. You can only escape to church so much – there is hell to pay when you go home.
"Trust Me. You won't like it," He gently advised. "The people you thought were your best friends will betray you. It will be lonely. You will be abandoned, rejected, and betrayed. You will be alone." He stressed the lonely part three times.
"I want to be with You." That was the bottom line, for me. I still remember this late night prayer with my King, as if it was yesterday and not 16 years ago.
"You will see evil face-to-face. You won't like it." I wanted what Oswald Chambers taught – the ability to abandon myself to God, to ruthlessly trust my life to my King, and to experience "reckless faith". 
I was tired of Bible studies and Sunday School lessons that inflated my sense of spiritual growth, but deep inside I knew I was a mere skeleton, starving for real Truth, and hungry for the Love that comes from being abandoned to God.
I knew there had to be more, that somehow a banqueting table was being prepared for me, in the midst of my enemies.

Many of us are loyal to our notions of Jesus Christ, but how many of us are loyal to Him?. . .Faith is not intelligent understanding, faith is deliberate commitment to a Person where I see no way.

We put sensitive loyalty to relatives in place of loyalty to Jesus Christ and Jesus has to take the last place. In a conflict of loyalty, obey Jesus Christ at all costs. — Oswald Chambers Source

Love put me in the path of forsaking everyone and everything, not because I wanted to hurt anyone, but because we were ALL on the path of destruction. Someone had to wake up, rise up, and find the escape route!


We were in church, yes, and we were "saved" according to our doctrinal teachings, but we had no joy, no peace, no love, no kindness, no gentleness… we were Christians without Christ! 


The one and only characteristic of the Holy Ghost in a man is a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ, and freedom from everything that is unlike Him. Are we prepared to set ourselves apart for the Holy Spirit’s ministrations in us? — Oswald Chambers Source


Because of the persecution from my husband, who used to tell me, "Sue, you haven't done anything wrong. There's just something inside me that wants to hurt you. But don't worry I've got it under control," I was praying and fasting nearly continually!


The meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God, not of the answer. Get into the habit of saying, “Speak, Lord,” and life will become a romance. Wherever the providence of God may dump us down, in a slum, in a shop, in the desert, we have to labour along the line of His direction. Never allow this thought—“I am of no use where I am,” because you certainly can be of no use where you are not! Wherever He has engineered your circumstances, pray. Prayer is not a question of altering things externally, but of working wonders in a man’s disposition. — Oswald Chambers Source

I was a thorn bird, looking for my thorn. I was already dying and I knew I must sing my life song. When we sing our life song, we become our true selves.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20
My life song is Galatians 2:20… for it's not about my plans for my life, my mission and purpose, it's simply about Him. What does He care to do in and through my little life? I have asked to be possessed by His Holy Spirit, wholly His. It no longer matters what becomes of my life.
He is the captain of my ship, and if it goes down and all is lost, what is that to me? I am already dead!
My enemy calls me many things: liar, cheater, thief, lesbian, cult leader, adulterer, hypocrite, and probably many more names that I haven't yet heard. The smear campaign was a thorn in my head, in my heart, and it stabbed me repeatedly.
My King said to me, "I will never forget what you went through, to come to Me!" My heart melts… for if I could have anything in the world, right here and now, it would be see His face light up with pleasure, in seeing me.
My enemy has wanted me dead for a long time. He stole nearly everything from me: relationships, assets, positions, reputation, and years of my life.
My King says to me, "I will never desert you. All that is Mine is yours. Drink from Me – I am the fountain of Life."
Yes, my diaries are filled with pain – the actual stories of how I lost everything. They expose the darkness. They speak of an evil so great you might have trouble believing it really happened. For all that He said would come about did: I lost friends and family. I was rejected, betrayed, and abandoned. I stood alone. I saw evil face-to-face and I do not like it. 
But I have my prize… LIFE, and that abundantly. I AM ALIVE. And my children will be saved, for He has promised me this.
What more do I want? I still want the same as I have always prayed. I want to see as He sees. Hear as He hears. Speak as He speaks. I want to go where He goes. I want to be with Him, every moment of every day. In His presence is a Love that fills me.
I am no longer that walking skeleton, impoverished. I am loved. I am filled. I am His delight and He is mine.
This is my life song, sung as my life was squeezed out of me, on that thorn – my cross – where my enemy left me to die: It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. So watch out, my enemy… I am not the same person I was before!
I pray this prayer for all the thorn birds out there – those of us who are Mad, who are Desperate, who are Alone in the world… I pray this prayer for you:
May you sing His Song as you are impaled on your cross. May your reckless faith make His heart beat faster, even as you are enraptured by His Love. May your moment of sadness and grief be filled with joy and peace, for to the depths of your loss will be the height of your reward. You have loved much, my friend. Your Love is His and will be returned in like measure, even doubled.
May you sing, even though you are alone right now. May you sing His song with your dying breath. For in the dying you are surrounded with Heaven's angels, ready to minister to you your new life. Life unspeakable and full of glory.
My sister, my friend. Rise up. You are healed.
You are healed of being unloved. You are healed of being numb. You are healed of the toxin of greed and the poison of ego. You are healed of wanting your own way, even though it seemed a good way. He is the Way, the Life, and the Truth. Rise up. Follow. Fly!

With all my love,


Susan Schiller knows how it feels to lose everything: marriage and family, church and reputation, finances and businesses, and more. Susan's upcoming, interactive memoir, "On the Way Home," tells the story of how she came to be known as "the most abused woman" her counselors had yet met and how she learned to navigate her way out of hell to a rich and satisfying life. In her lifetime, Susan has served in duties ranging from home school mom – to pastor –  to full-time deliverance minister – and to Midwest regional prayer coordinator for a large international ministry. These days you can usually find Susan soaking in her favorite hot springs pool, reading a book (or several), blogging, baking bread, or hanging out with her family and friends. You can pre-order a free copy of Susan's upcoming book, "On the Way Home" by registering here.

Copyright 2014, Susan Schiller, http://TeamFamilyOnline.com.  For reprint permission for any private or commercial use, in any form of media, please contact Susan Schiller.



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous July 23, 2014 at 3:30 am

Dear Sue, What a beautiful legend.  I love the story.  I grew up with birds.  It was the only pet that my family allowed.  I love them and this one is exquisite.  I googled some other pics too.   My favorite quote from this: The meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God, not of the answer. Get into the habit of saying, “Speak, Lord,” and life will become a romance. Wherever the providence of God may dump us down, in a slum, in a shop, in the desert, we have to labour along the line of His direction. Never allow this thought—“I am of no use where I am,” because you certainly can be of no use where you are not! Wherever He has engineered your circumstances, pray. Prayer is not a question of altering things externally, but of working wonders in a man’s disposition. — Oswald Chambers  I have Oswald Chambers devotions in a very large book downstairs that I should probably read. My sister, my friend… I love you dearly.  Thank you for this story.  


Susan Schiller July 23, 2014 at 6:39 am

Oswald Chambers…. yes, his words have helped shaped the flow of my life!

Eliana, I’m glad you like the story … thanks for coming by!


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