Pity the poor cormorant.
This ungainly waterfowl is never at the top of anyone’s list of favourite birds.
It looks almost prehistoric, with its matte black feathers and strongly hooked bill. It lacks the beauty of a brightly coloured cardinal or the elegance of a swan.
The cormorant sits unusually low in the water, as though it’s about to sink. And because its wing feathers aren’t waterproof like those of other waterfowl, it needs to stand for long periods with wings outstretched, drying its feathers out in the sun.
It’s clumsy on land, and must expend more energy flying than other birds.
Nothing seems quite right about the cormorant.
Did God make a mistake when he fashioned them?
Not at all!
The cormorant’s lack of waterproofing actually plays to its advantage. Its waterlogged feathers make it less buoyant than ducks, enabling it to dive deeper in search of fish to eat.
Cormorants are excellent divers, agile and swift, with some species being able to dive to an astounding 150 feet.
So its “deficiencies” aren’t actually a bug, but rather a feature.
Do you ever feel like you’re not as good at things as other people? Do you feel as though you simply don’t measure up?
Rest assured, God didn’t make a mistake when he made you.
There’s nothing quite like a perfect fit, is there?
When you buy a piece of clothing that hugs you where it’s supposed to, and is more flowing where you want it to be looser, you feel confident and comfortable. There’s something special about a garment that seems like it was made just for you.
The tailorbird of tropical Asia know this, too. When it fashions a nest for its young, it makes sure it is perfectly suited for its young family.
The female tailorbird makes its nest out of a living leaf hanging from a shrub or tree. She chooses a leaf and carefully checks it for size by wrapping it around her body like a cloak.
If the leaf suits her, she uses her needlelike beak to sew the sides together with plant fibre or spider silk, making as many as 200 stitches.
Once the leaf “cup” has been sewn, the male tailorbird lines it with soft materials in preparation for the eggs that will soon be laid in it. The parent birds make a perfect home for their chicks.
If a tailorbird goes to so much trouble to make nest that is perfectly suited for her family, won’t God make sure that the service He has in mind for you is a perfect fit, too?
How would you feel if you won the lottery?
Pretty amazing, I’d imagine!
And the feelings of joy and gratitude at your good fortune would last for a long time, wouldn’t they?
Um, maybe not.
Researchers have discovered that positive feelings following a stroke of good luck soon subside and return to baseline. By the same token, people eventually adjust back to their baseline after some misfortune has befallen them.
This phenomenon is called “hedonic adaptation.” Whether your situation is good or bad, you get used to it.
I wonder if something like this happened to the children of Israel after being freed from slavery in Egypt.
Forest fires are fearsome things.
They can lay waste to hundreds of square miles of mature trees and displace wildlife. If they spread to areas of human habitation, they can raze buildings to the ground and devastate communities.
And yet, fires can play an important role in nature. Trying to suppress them too drastically can have a negative effect on the ecology of the forest.
It can backfire, so to speak.
Take the giant sequoia, native to inland California. This majestic tree can live for thousands of years and grow to a height of almost 300 feet.
You’d think that protecting groves of sequoias from fire would help preserve them. But sometimes when we interfere with the natural cycle of fire and regrowth, we do a forest no favours.
The suppression of fire during the last century by U.S. land management authorities actually hobbled the sequoia’s ability to survive. Its seedlings can only grow into mature trees if competing plants are regularly eliminated by low-level forest fires. (The sequoia’s spongy bark helps protect it against fire.)
Not only that, the cones of the sequoia require the intense heat of a forest fire in order to open up and release their cargo of seeds. If the surrounding ground has just been cleared of competing vegetation by fire and enriched with the resultant nutritious ash, the seeds are given an additional leg up to grow.
So the sequoia can only grow to its impressive grandeur with the help of fire.
Perhaps the same is true of us.