Do you ever think that you could have designed this planet a bit better than God did?
Don’t get me wrong. I love the beauty of God’s Creation: the animals, birds, trees, flowers, oceans, mountains, and starry night sky.
But I have just one quibble….
I think God made far too many of them.
Scientists estimate that there are 10 quintillion bugs on Earth, which works out to well over a billion insects per person.
I find this excessive. All most of them do is bite, sting, or frighten people.
In an ideal world of my creation, there would only be a few select insects. Cute ones like ladybugs and beautiful ones like butterflies would make the cut, but I can do without the rest.
Plus, I’d make a lot more flowers. Sound good?
There’s only one problem with the utopia I’ve designed: what would pollinate the flowers?
Insects are responsible for the vast majority of pollination. In my version of this world, I would have eliminated the very things that make possible productivity in flowering plants.
I think we take the same attitude when it comes to things in our lives that we find unpleasant or demanding.
We want nothing to do with the things that “bug” us.
What is the ultimate flying machine?
The Concorde? A high-tech fighter jet?
I’d suggest to you that the holder of this title belongs to the common swift.
The swift holds the record for the fastest confirmed level flight of any bird: 111.5 km/h (69.3 mph). (Birds like falcons can fly faster, but only when diving down through the air to catch prey.)
Swifts also spend most of their lives on the wing, landing only to nest. Some individuals can spend up to ten months in continuous flight. In a single year a common swift can cover at least 200,000 km. No other bird spends as much of its life in the sky.
They are truly astonishing creatures.
A funny thing about swifts, though: they don’t do very well on the ground.
Their small, weak legs, which are placed far back on their bodies, are really only good for clinging to vertical surfaces like cliffs. They never voluntarily settle on the ground, where they’d be vulnerable to predation. Although swifts are capable of taking flight from level ground, they prefer to “fall” into the air from a high point.
Simply put, swifts were meant to soar.
And so were you.
But oftentimes there are things inhibiting our flight…
When you come home late at night, isn’t it nice when a family member has left a light on for you?
It shows they care about you, and want you to be guided safely back inside.
I was reminded of this recently when I came across a fun fact about border collies, a highly intelligent breed of dog often used to herd sheep.
The border collie usually sports a prominent white tip on its tail. This characteristic colouration is known as the “Shepherd’s Lantern.”
The white tip of the collie’s tail stands out in the dim light of dusk, allowing the shepherd to be guided home from the pasture after a long day’s work.
That got me thinking:
Our Heavenly Father gives us a “lantern,” too.
God loves us and wants to make sure we’re guided home to him.
He does this in two ways:
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?
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.