The Woodpecker by Dana K. Ray

For your reading enjoyment, may I present “The Woodpecker,” a short, inspirational story graciously provided by author Dana K. Ray from her book, A Word: Ordinary Days With an Extraordinary God. 


The hardest lessons for me are the ones when I look back and see, what I like to call a duh moment. When the answer to my prayer is so simple that I miss it and when I finally see it, I just stop and say, “Duh.”

My most memorable duh moment was when I encountered a nasty little woodpecker. I hope, as you read this, you will see that our God is not complicated. In fact, He’s quite simple in how He works. Don’t get me wrong, I believe Him to be BIG but He doesn’t have to part the Red Sea or move a mountain to perform a miracle. I have no need for that kind of miracle, but I do have other needs. Needs that He loves to fulfill. Miracles that I eventually see, and say, “Duh.”

My children were now growing, eleven, eight, five and three. They were no longer the little ones who woke the second they heard my footsteps in the hallway. Since they had begun to sleep later, I began yearning for my morning quiet time.

beach-1868772_1920.jpgOh, to see the sunrise, sipping hot coffee with my Bible opened like I did before children. To hear the birds chirping and watch them eat from the feeders as I worshipped God on my deck. I wanted that back. There was only one problem. I was now, used to sleeping in.

I decided I’d hidden in my bathroom long enough. I wanted the deck, the outdoors, and hot coffee. I longed for it. I ached for it. So, I prayed for it. But I couldn’t seem to get myself up. The alarm would go off, I’d hit snooze over and over again. My husband hated it. Hearing that buzzer every nine minutes for an hour was aggravating, to say the least.

I began praying harder, changing my prayer from telling God how I wanted to get up, to asking Him to help me get up.


Then he came. One morning at 5:45 am, outside my window, above my bed. Somehow, he hung from the metal guttering and pounded his hard, sharp, beak furiously. He pecked so loudly that the glass in the windows shook. I knew it would wake everyone.

I moaned, “Oh, Lord, make him go away.”

He continued to pound.

I got out of bed, walked to the window, opened it and quietly said, “Get.” Which shooed him away. I crawled back into bed, rolled over, snuggled the covers under my chin and dozed off.

The pecking started again. My teeth clench together. This time, I got up and walked to the den, out the French doors, and through the damp grass. My fists are clenched and I had one purpose, to kill me a woodpecker. I begin to wonder if it’s legal to kill a woodpecker in Missouri?

Thankfully, my neighbors are still in bed, as I frantically wave my hands in the air, quietly yelling at this bird. After he flew away, I went back to bed and to sleep.

You see where this is going, but I didn’t, not at the time. I drank my coffee two hours later, watching this woodpecker sit on my patio bench, mocking me. He was so beautiful but I still wanted him dead for waking me up so early.

I prayed that evening, the same prayer. “Help me, Lord, to wake up in the morning so I can have a quiet time with You.”

5:30 am the pecking starts. I nudge my husband. “Get that bird. Shoot him with the BB Gun.”

He groans and rolls over.

My eyes narrow. It’s me again, me and the woodpecker.

I start the routine. Crack the window, shoo him away, go back to bed. He pecks again. I go outside, chase him away, go back to bed. I drag myself up at 6:45 am, the time I have to get up to get kids ready for school.

This goes on for at least three weeks. I visit my local nursery. God bless the man who always gets to deal with me. I was raised both in the city and on a farm, but you’d never know it.

John explains to me all about woodpeckers, more then I really cared to hear, but I nodded and smiled, acting interested, waiting for the only bit of information I wanted to know; how do I get rid of one?

He says, “It’s mating season. They’re not pecking they’re drumming. Yadda, yadda, yadda.”

“Okay, John, but how do I ditch the dodo?”

He shows me a metal streamer and some other things. I’m skeptical but my question about my neighbor is answered. I thought he had just forgot that red streamer from Christmas last year.

I walk away with nothing. I pray that night for the woodpecker to leave and for me to get up and have a quiet time.

After another two weeks go by, my sanity is about lost. My husband, like me, is teetering on a mental breakdown over a bird. We’ve even discussed putting up the tent and sleeping outside with the BB Gun to get rid of him.

Isn’t it strange that I pray for the blasted thing to leave then and in the same breath, pray for God to wake me up?

God had to be shaking his head, thinking, “When will she get it?”

Finally, it happened. It hit me like a brick. I stood outside one early morning, staring into the eyes of this Red-bellied Woodpecker. I smiled and said, “Duh.”

I laughed at my stupidity and wondered how God ever puts up with me. I sit outside and stare. He begins to peck, excuse me, drum. I shoo him away so my husband can sleep. I go inside, numb.

book-2572101_1920.jpgIt took almost a month for me to understand. The next morning I automatically woke at 5:30 am. I listen for the woodpecker, but nothing. I got up and got ready for my quiet time. I make coffee, got my Bible, go outside on my deck and begin praising God for getting me up without the banging of the woodpecker.

He had answered my prayer immediately but I was oblivious to the simple way He did. I mean, really, what had I expected when I prayed for God to get me up? Did I think He would levitate me to the deck for my quiet time?

We often look for these gigantic works that we think God must perform but He is present with us daily, performing many miracles. We just need to realize it, or like me, we’ll miss it.

Every time I see a woodpecker, I smile. We haven’t had one drum on our house since, but He has sent him back. I am reminded of God’s answer to my prayer every time I see him eating seed out of one of our feeders.

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”John 11:40 (NIV)

Yea God for the gift of the beautifully, annoying woodpecker!

Believing Him for many more miracles.

(copyright © 2018 Dana K. Ray, all rights reserved)



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Dana K. Ray
Dana K. Ray

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