Saved By The Blood

Image of ground squirrel by Roy Buri from Pixabay

In a match between a ground squirrel and a deadly rattlesnake, whom would you bet on?

Remember, this is a ground squirrel: it can’t run up a tree to escape.

And if the squirrel needs to defend its burrow with its babies inside, it doesn’t have much choice: it has to stand its ground.

What chance does it have against a venomous rattlesnake?

More than you’d expect.

California ground squirrels have an ace up their sleeve.

When confronted by a rattlesnake, this squirrel is able to engorge its tail with extra blood. It then waves its tail back and forth vigorously, super-heating the blood.

The snake, while lethal, has relatively poor vision, so it can’t clearly see what it’s facing. It instead uses its built-in infrared sensor to detect heat.

The squirrel’s hot, blood-filled tail swishing to and fro mimics the heat signature of a much larger animal. The snake thinks twice about taking on such a formidable creature, and more often than not it slinks away, defeated.

The squirrel has been saved from its enemy by the blood.

And so are we.

On our own, we are no match for that serpent of old, Satan.

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Look Beyond The Obvious

Image of a killdeer bird by Esteban Rodriguez from Pixabay

Sometimes the most innocent-looking birds can be the craftiest.

Take the killdeer, for instance.

This bird, a type of plover, has cheery horizontal stripes across its front in bold black and white. The rest of its body is decked out in gentle brown and buff colours. It has what look to me like honest, kind eyes.

It seems like a bird that has nothing to hide.

But looks can be deceiving.

The killdeer isn’t above pulling a fast one on you.

If you or a predator gets too close to its nest, which is invariably on the ground, the killdeer puts on an act worthy of an Oscar-winner.

It pretends to be injured, holding its wing out at an awkward angle while emitting plaintive cries of distress.

This “broken-wing act” distracts the predator and lures it away from the bird’s eggs or chicks in the nest.

So if you want to take a peek at the killdeer’s nest, you have to look beyond the deception. You have to realize there’s something the bird doesn’t want you to see; hence the hullabaloo.

You have to have the discipline to not let yourself be distracted by the bird’s conniving song and dance.

I think sometimes Satan works a bit like the killdeer.

There are things he doesn’t want us to see or realize.

So he deceives us.

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Same Spider, Different Silks

Dew drops on spider’s web. Image by Pezibear from Pixabay

When you let your mind wander, do you ever find yourself asking odd questions?

Such as, “Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of the bottle?”

Or, “How do you grow a seedless fruit?”

Or how about this one:

“Why don’t spiders get caught in their own webs?”

I can’t help you with the first two, but I do have an answer for the third.

When spiders build their webs, they draw out silk from their abdomens with six spinnerets. The key is that they’re able to emit different types of silk for different purposes.

The spider first constructs a frame for its web. Then, it lays down spokes of non-sticky silk to use as walkways.

Next, the spider weaves spirals of connecting lines between the spokes using sticky silk. This is for ensnaring small insects that it will later eat. The spider knows to avoid walking on these gluey strands.

A spider can also spin stretchy silk for the centre of its web, or extra-strong silk for the anchor lines.

Whichever type of silk the spider decides to spin, it all has a specific purpose. And even though the types of silk differ, they all come from the same source.

I think we can borrow this analogy to describe how we can receive quite different things from God’s hand.

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God Can Use Anything And Anyone

Image by Terri Cnudde from Pixabay

Now that spring has arrived, the birds are starting to build their nests.

It’s delightful to watch them collect items to fashion into a new home.

They’ll mostly gather twigs and leaves as their construction materials. They might also add moss, plant fluff, dried grass, or feathers to make the nest soft for their chicks.

But sometimes birds use unexpected things when constructing a home.

They’ve been known to use mud, pet fur, discarded snake skins, and spider silk for their nests. They’ll even use man-made items, such as plastic, tinsel, dryer lint, or even purloined underwear from a clothesline!

Birds don’t seem to count anything out: they’ll use the most unlikely things to achieve their goal.

And so does God.

God also uses unexpected things and unlikely people to fulfill His purposes. The Bible is chock-full of examples of this:

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Shift Your Perspective

Mallard duck. Image by Ralphs_Fotos from Pixabay

Among the most spectacular aspects of nature for me are its colours.

I’m continually wowed by the vivid colours found in nature, such as the brilliant red plumage of the Northern cardinal.

The cardinal’s red feathers, which come courtesy of pigments, look the same when viewed from any angle. But there’s another source of colour in nature that is even more mesmerizing:

Iridescence.

With iridescence, the hue of something changes when seen from different angles. You’ve probably experienced this shimmery optical phenomenon yourself when looking at certain insects, butterflies, birds, or even soap bubbles.

A good example of iridescence is the head of the mallard, a common duck found in the northern hemisphere. Its head appears to be a bright emerald green at first, but if you shift your angle of observation, it can appear green-gold, blue, or indigo.

It all depends on your perspective.

Maybe there’s a little lesson here for us.

If we shift our perspective about our own situations, we can see beauty that we didn’t know was there.

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Your Internal Voice Recognition Software

Adele live in concert, Glasgow, 2016. Wikimedia Commons CC BY-2.0

Sometimes your eyes may fool you, but your ears know the truth.

A group of Adele impersonators found this out back in 2015.

They had gathered for a contest to choose who could best imitate the British singer Adele. The competition was filmed as a supposed BBC TV special, hosted by Graham Norton.

There was a catch, however. It wasn’t really a contest, but rather a set-up.

Unbeknownst to the other participants, the real Adele had gone undercover and had entered the competition as well. A movie effects specialist had disguised the superstar’s appearance with a fake nose and chin so that people wouldn’t recognize her. She introduced herself as “Jenny,” a nanny.

One by one, the contestants performed a song. Each had done her make-up to look like the real Adele. And some did a passable impression of her vocally, too.

Then, “Jenny” began to sing.

Once she opened her mouth and sang in her trademark style, the other “Adeles” were riveted. They got emotional as goosebumps ran up their arms. It soon dawned on them that it was actually their idol singing, not some anonymous nanny (watch the video of their reactions here).

There was no mistaking who it was anymore, even if she was in disguise.

Simply put, they knew her voice.

Did you know that, if you’re a believer, you have a similar ability within you? You have an internal “voice recognition software” that enables you to recognize Jesus’ voice.

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Watch the Impossible Happen

Image by Josef Pichler from Pixabay

They say that it’s impossible for bumble bees to fly.

The theory goes that their weight and size are too great for their tiny wings to support, so according to the laws of aerodynamics they shouldn’t be able to get off the ground.

The only problem is, no one has told the bumble bees that.

They seem to have no difficulty in buzzing about in the air from flower to flower, collecting pollen and nectar to bring back to the hive.

So how do they do it, when physics would seem to suggest that they can’t?

For a long time, this was a mystery to us. Eventually we discovered that bumble bees actually don’t defy the laws of aviation: they simply fly in a different way than a plane or bird does.

We learned that the propeller-like way they beat their wings creates an invisible force above them, like a mini-tornado or -hurricane. This vortex actually sucks them upward, giving them lift in spite of their weight.

There was more going on than met the eye, which allowed the “impossible” to happen.

Likewise, when we believe in God, there is more going on in our lives than we’re aware of.

When God is working in your life, sometimes He will cause the impossible to happen, even when you can’t see how it could.

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Fill Up Your Storehouse

This is a busy (and nutty) time of year for squirrels.

The little critters are hard at work storing up nuts and seeds for the hard winter ahead.

Depending on the species, they may either store their nuts in one spot (a stash), or hide them by burying them in multiple locations (known as “scatter-hoarding”). They’ve even been known to shamelessly steal nuts from the stashes of other squirrels.

The jury is out on whether squirrels actually remember where they’ve hidden all those nuts. Some studies suggest they can recall the location of thousands of buried nuts. Other research implies that squirrels fail to recover a good number of their treasures, which allows the nuts and acorns to grow into trees.

One thing is for certain: these little guys are single-minded about gathering up nuts before winter, often using unconventional places to store them.

Like cars.

Just ask Bill Fischer of Fargo, North Dakota. For the past eight years, a red squirrel has been using Bill’s pickup truck to store walnuts. Each year, the poor man has to remove thousands of walnuts from every crevice of his truck, including the engine compartment and bumpers.

This month, the critter set a new record, stashing 348 pounds of nuts in Bill’s vehicle. And this was all the work of one tiny squirrel.

These crafty little animals might exasperate us, but we can learn something from them:

They make sure they’ve “squirrelled away” provision for hard times to come.

I think we should do something similar:

Store up the Word of God in your heart, because you never know when you might need a certain verse to sustain you in a tough situation.

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The Master of Deception

Peacock Butterfly. Image by 👀 Mabel Amber from Pixabay

If you’re out for a walk in nature, you may not realize how much you’re being tricked.

You may think you’ve got an accurate picture of the natural world around you, but in many cases, you’re being fooled.

That’s because some creatures are masters of deception.

Stick insects camouflage themselves by mimicking the shape and colour of twigs on a tree. Moths may blend in so well with the bark pattern of the tree they’re resting on that you’d never know they’re there.

The killdeer bird fakes having a broken wing to make a predator think she will be an easy meal, thereby luring it away from the vulnerable chicks in her nest. Then she suddenly flies away, to the surprise of the predator.

Even beautiful butterflies get in on the act of trickery. Some species have markings on their wings that look like huge eyes. The eyespots may discourage a predator from attacking by making it think the insect is in fact a much larger animal.

These false eyes may serve another purpose: to encourage an attacker to aim for the wrong target. The markings deflect an attack away from the butterfly’s head or body to parts less vital for survival, such as its wing margins. By using this deception, the butterfly outwits its enemies and is able to fly away with a torn wing at worst, but otherwise relatively unscathed.

Butterflies aren’t the only creatures to use misdirection in this way:

Satan does, too, and we need to be wise to his tactics. We may not realize how much he’s tricking us.

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Light in the Darkness

Jellyfish Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

The Earth’s oceans are a bit mysterious to landlubbers, aren’t they? Especially the farther down you go.

The top zone of the ocean, 200 meters or less from the surface, is called the “sunlight” zone. This zone hosts the vast majority of fish, sea mammals and aquatic plant life that we’d be familiar with.

In the next zone down, the “twilight” zone, the amount of sunlight rapidly diminishes. Such a tiny amount of light penetrates this region that photosynthesis is no longer possible.

But it’s the lowest reaches of the oceans that are the most otherworldly and forbidding.

The bottom zone, below 1,000 meters, is called the “midnight” zone, and with good reason. Sunlight has no hope of penetrating this far down. These inky depths are darker than most humans have ever experienced.

And yet some creatures down here have eyes.

What on earth for? What is there to see in this eternal darkness?

There’s actually still light in the deepest part of the oceans. It comes not from the sun but from bioluminescent creatures. Some deep-sea organisms, like jellyfish, can generate and emit light much the way fireflies do here on land.

There’s still light, even in areas where sunlight never penetrates and the darkness seems impossible to vanquish. Even in the “midnight” zone.

Are you going through a “midnight” of your own?

Does it seem to you that you’re living in a kind of darkness, that you’ll never see the light of day in your situation?

Rest assured that there’s no place on earth where God’s light can’t reach you.

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