While driving north a few weeks ago, the Preacher and I noticed what looked like dozens of charming white sailboats dotting the wind-ruffled surface of a lake ahead. Nearer the water, we realized our mistake. Instead of sailboats, we saw a large flock of pelicans—fishing. Their recent catch still draped from a few long beaks.
I never tire of watching pelicans on my rare sightings of them. Their fishing skills astound me. If their numbers allow it, they team up—pelicans versus fish. The fish don’t stand a chance. Forming a circle or semi-circle, the birds swim inwards, their wings beating the water. Below its surface, the fish become confused and swim toward the center of the trap—precisely where the pelicans want them. When they meet in the middle, the great birds simply open their wide mouths and scoop up dinner.
As we pulled over to watch them fishing, several pelicans launched skyward. They soared low over our car, gazing straight ahead, an unforgettable image of airborne serenity. Their long bills rested on their wide white breasts, their large orange feet tucked deeply into their bodies. Adult pelicans have a nine-foot wingspan, but those great wings barely flapped.
As I watched, I felt overtaken by wonder, as I always do when I observe God’s creation. But this time, my wonder took a different tone.
At an ocean-side retreat where I spoke earlier this year, Joyce, a member of the worship team, made a comment I’ll never forget. In retrospect, I think God may have brought me three provinces over that weekend just to hear her words. To the best of my memory, here they are:
“Girlfriends, how often do we look around us in a setting like this, or anywhere in nature, and catch our breath at the beauty of it! Sometimes it feels as though we’ll break with it, that we can’t even contain it. But think, ladies!” Her lovely face glowed. “The God who designed the nature we love, made you too. Loves you far more. And when he looks at you, his heart skips a beat at your beauty—even more so than we could ever admire anything in the world that he created.”
I sat stunned, hearing it like that. Amazed. Humbled.
The same realization astounded the biblical King David, another nature-lover. “Oh Lord,” he asked, “what are human beings, that you even consider us worth a thought?”
But it’s true: God, who designed pelicans with such exquisite beauty, order, and efficiency, finds me and you—also his creation, but so often broken, so often unattractive in spirit, soul, mind and body; so often reluctant to follow—infinitely more wondrous. Much more worthy of his love and attention. So worthy, in fact, that he allowed the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, in order to restore us to himself.
Have you considered nature recently? Did it take your breath away? Remember, when God looks at you…he feels the same way.
A friend and reader passed on the link to this acapella version of an old classic, “Who Am I?” Needing a quiet space for my spirit, I’ve listened and watched half a dozen times. If you like hymns and impeccable harmony, consider this a gift from Dave G., out in B.C., Canada. Thanks, Dave.