|Photo by r Peretz Partensky 2011|
As my husband and I strolled on our favorite beach last week, we were struck by the harmony of God’s creation, just a short ferry ride from the dissonant chaos of the world reeling from the blow of coronavirus.
The numbers of new cases and deaths in the United States and elsewhere grew exponentially. Schools, universities, theme parks, public beaches and state parks, and most businesses and churches had closed. Joblessness and unemployment claims soared while global stock markets took a nose dive. Fear and panic spread, not only over contagion, illness, and death, but over shortages of COVID-19 tests, critical care beds, and health care workers. Shoppers crowded together, potentially hastening spread of the virus, just to stockpile food and confront empty shelves that should be loaded with toilet paper.
Despite the catch phrase, “We’re all in this together,” the crisis seemed to bring out the worst in some people. Two brothers were arrested for stockpiling and price-gouging 170,000 bottles of hand sanitizer. A thief disguised as a delivery driver hijacked a truckload of medical grade masks designated for health care workers. “Covidiots” who flagrantly rebelled against quarantine and social distancing measures seemed hell-bent on risking the lives of others.
But on this private beach, the weather was idyllic; the occasional beachcomber or jogger waved politely from a safe distance; and the cares of this world seemed far away. The gentle waves advanced and retreated along the shoreline, a reminder that God created and controls all, even telling the sea how far it can invade the beach (Job 9:1-10; 28:11). He may allow Satan to test His children, but He places a hedge of protection around us beyond which Satan cannot venture (Job 1:8-12). Any trial He allows is for our ultimate good and His ultimate glory.
Far more numerous than humans on this beach were fowls of the air, mostly congregating in groups. Three pelicans patrolled the skies in squadron formation, flying parallel to the shoreline. The first would flap its powerful wings, then the second, then the third, and then all three would soar motionless on the resultant air current. Then the cycle would repeat in mesmerizing rhythm.
These birds reminded me of the Trinity – God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit – all working together in perfect unity to accomplish Their perfect will (Matthew 3:16-17; John 14:16-26). Once we are saved by trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), His Holy Spirit enters our hearts, teaching us about Jesus John 14:17). In turn, Jesus Christ is the perfect representation of the Father (Hebrews 1:3), and the only Way to Him (John 14:6). In Christ we have the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9).
High up along the dunes was a murder of crows, cawing raucously at one another to defend their claim to a washed-up horseshoe crab. This collective term seems fitting for birds with an unsavory reputation for being selfish and greedy. Yet God is able to use even these for His own purposes – in this case, as scavengers to clean up an otherwise pristine beach.
Scripture tells us that God used ravens, which are larger, more menacing relatives of crows, to feed the prophet Elijah. Shortly thereafter, God would use Elijah as an instrument of His provision and healing (1 Kings 17:8-24), and as His soldier in spiritual battle against the prophets of Baal, to prove that Jehovah was the true God who could bring rain to a parched, famine-struck land (1 Kings 18). Rather than pecking his eyes out, as one might expect from these cruel birds seeing Elijah in his debilitated state, they brought him bread and meat every morning and evening as he waited on God’s perfect timing (1 Kings 17:8-24).
A flock of ravens is termed an "unkindness,” "treachery,” or "conspiracy,” yet God can soften even the hardestheart to bend to His will. It reminded me that the two brothers, driven by greed to profit from people’s fear of contagion, ultimately donated their hoarded hand sanitizer to a local church and to others in need.
As we climbed up the dunes to the scrub pines separating the beach dwellings, a flock of mourning doves scattered from the branches, a symbol of God turning our weeping into joy (Psalm 30:5) and our mourning into dancing (Isaiah 51:11; Psalm 30:11), through His salvation and the blessed hope (Titus 2:13) of His soon return for His children at the Rapture (Psalm 55:6; 68:13; Isaiah 60:8)
How appropriate that a flock of doves, particularly when released upward into the heavens at a wedding, is known as an “exaltation of doves!” We can be still, knowing that God is to be exalted above the heavens (Psalm 18:46; 46:10; 57:5,11), and His Son to be exalted with a Name which is above every name (Philippians 2:9).
At dusk, just after the golden orb of the sun had vanished below the horizon, illuminating the clouds in soft rose and coral light, we wandered over to the deserted pool. After I swam a few laps, I paused to look up and spotted an osprey, a strand of seaweed in its beak, flying majestically from the beach to a tall Norfolk Island pine, where it perched on the highest branch. Its mate was already there, as evidently they had returned to the same nesting spot where we had seen them several years ago.
There is no collective term for osprey, as they typically travel alone or in pairs. They choose the highest spot for their nest, which is often built upon and used for up to four generations. These birds reminded me that regardless of nationality, politics, financial security, race, or gender, God’s children are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).
Our relationship with Him supercedes all others, for He alone must have the preeminence in our life (Matthew 6:33). The church, or called-out body of believers (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:12), is the bride of Christ (Revelation 21:2), destined for Heaven and even now seated in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6) in Him!
No matter what perils threaten us, we can trust God, Who cares even for the birds of the air and so much more for us (Luke 12:6-7), to work all things together (Romans 8:28) for our good and His glory! He is still on His throne, and the temporary distress we endure here is but a fleeting moment (2 Corinthians 4:17) when compared to the beauty, glory, love, joy and peace we shall experience throughout eternity!
© 2020 Laurie Collett