“The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness.” (Psalm 24:1)
My parents live somewhat out in the country with a big backyard that is teeming in both domestic and wildlife creatures. One day while quietly observing and meditating about nature, it occurred to me that all of God’s creation can teach us something valuable that is also reflected in the Bible.
My parents’ dog just showed up out of the blue one day. We don’t know who he once belonged to or from where he came. But, from the day he showed up, he has been a loyal watch dog, guarding the house and property. He scares off moles and snakes. And what does he expect in return? Only food and a belly rub every now and then.
Many things have been spoken and written about dogs and all the good things we can learn from them such as their loyalty, unconditional love, forgiveness, and desire to learn and serve their masters. If people loved and served God like dogs do people, we would probably still be living in the Garden of Eden.
Most dogs are totally devoted to their masters. Their lives evolve around serving and pleasing their master. If our devotion to God was half as much as a dog’s, what a better world it would be!
“Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)
My mother has one cat. She is a big baby that stays out all night and then comes in every morning to rub against our legs and then goes to sleep for the rest of the day.
I have heard it said that God created dogs to show us how He wishes for us to be, and then He created cats to show us how we actually are in reality–that is, willful, stubborn, selfish, self-centered, and lazy. In contrast to dogs, cats are not always loyal, and they tend to act as though they expect to be served rather than to serve their masters. They possess an attitude of superiority as opposed to the humble dog.
It is interesting that we cat owners enjoy having these willful and stubborn creatures in our homes and as part of our lives. We look past the amusing antics of cats and love them anyway. While dogs do demonstrate how we should love God, cats demonstrate to us how God loves us. Like cats, we are willful. We do what we want to do instead of what God wants. We are selfish, and we tend to seek God only when we want something from Him just as fickle cats do, yet God still loves us and desires for us to be part of His family just as we do our cats.
“As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:13-14)
“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning.” (Lamentations 3:22)
Like dogs, many things have been said and written about the lessons we can learn from geese such as their knack for excellent teamwork, how they encourage the leaders of the flock by honking, and how they will drop out of formation to the ground to help or stay with a tired or wounded member.
My parents own a pair of geese. No matter where you see one, you see the other. They are loyal and protective of one another. The gander is always digging up roots for the goose to eat so she doesn’t have to work so hard. He provides for her. He also often stands guard at the water pool, watching for predators, allowing her to swim carefree. He puts her needs above his own. Jesus says we humans are to be this way toward one another.
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others
better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of
others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:3-5)
One solitary guinea dwells at my parents’ home. There was once a small flock of them, but all the others went missing. My parents don’t know if they were kidnapped by hawks, or if they wandered off somewhere. But, this one single guinea remains, and every day, she simply minds her own business going about searching for insects to eat. She makes little noise unless she becomes alarmed when she sees a hawk flying over or the dog trying to chase her for play. She reminds me of what the Apostle Paul says:
“For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.” (II Thessalonians 3:11-12)
5. Caterpillars and butterflies
During my observation of nature in the backyard, I also noticed little butterflies flittering about, looking for flowers to feast upon. Butterflies are favored by many people because of their beauty, grace, and freedom. But, butterflies don’t start out that way. They begin as lowly earth-bound worms, caterpillars, who must endure a dark cocoon for a period of time in which they are then transformed into beautiful and free creatures.
As humans, we are lowly and earth-bound, but the butterfly teaches us that God has a plan for us to be transformed as well into something beautiful and free. However, we have to understand that, like the caterpillar, we have to go through a transformation period. Sometimes, this means going through periods in our lives that are dark and scary, but if we trust in God, He will use these dark and difficult periods to mold us into creatures of grace and beauty.
“I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2)
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” (Philippians 3:21)
My mother loves birds, and she is always putting out feeders and bird seed, so we can see a variety of birds in the backyard. Most birds are early risers. They get up before the sun is completely risen to search for their food. Like Jesus said, they have no barns to store their food. Every day, they must look for their food, not knowing if and where they will find any, and yet God provides for them. I have seen birds pecking and hunting for food even in the winter when there was snow and ice covering the ground. Their lives are completely dependent on their Creator providing for them, and yet they don’t complain about their state in life. Rather, they go about singing, rejoicing in every new day. We humans tend to worry too much and to complain too much when we ought to be like the birds, rejoicing and trusting in God to provide for us.
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26)
“Rejoice always.” (I Thessalonians 5:16)
In addition to a large vegetable garden, my parents also have several varieties of flowers and plants. In the spring and summer, their property is buzzing with bees. Bees are special creatures. As we all know, bees pollenate plants, enabling them to reproduce, which provides us with fruits and vegetables to eat. In this sense, they help do God’s work that He created for them to do. God gave them the ability to pollenate flowers, and this they do with great zeal. God gives each of us abilities and talents to do good works for Him, but we are not always as zealous and dedicated workers as bees. By observing the bees, I am reminded of the parable of the talents that Jesus taught in Matthew 25:14-29.
We have a responsibility to take the abilities and talents that God gives us, to use them to help make the world a better place, like the bees, and when we do, we will be blessed. “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance, but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.” (Matthew 25:29)
Additionally, bees make honey, a sweet, edible substance that we use to sweeten our food and drink as well as for medicinal uses. In short, bees make life a little sweeter, and so should we try each day to make the lives of those around us a little sweeter. We can do this by talking to people and treating them in ways that encourage them and build them up instead of bringing them down.
“Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.” (Romans 14:19)
“And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” (Ephesians 5:2)
At my parents’ house, a long trail of ants found their way to the dog’s water bowl. We often look at ants as a nuisance, but God says they are “exceedingly wise.” (Proverbs 30:24-25) I truly believe God made His many creatures different so that we could learn so many wise lessons from them. God Himself says we can learn this from the ants:
“Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which having no captain, overseer, or ruler, provides her supplies in summer, and gathers her food in the harvest.” (Proverbs 6:6-8)
Ants are busy and work to provide for themselves. They don’t wait around for someone to tell them what to do. They see what needs to be done, and they do it. Additionally, they work together as a team, which is why they are hard to get rid of. When people work together as a team, we too can produce much work. As Christians, we can work together as a team to accomplish God’s work in leading a trail of God’s love and good news about His plan of redemption through Jesus Christ.
9. Trees, flowers, plants
There are many trees and plants in and around my parents’ property, from trees like oak, magnolia, and pine to flowers like impatiens, irises and hibiscus. Trees, flowers and plants are like people in the sense that they need water and light just like we do in order to grow and thrive. Without enough water and light, they will not grow or produce. I have always thought it is interesting that plants will grow toward the light. That is a message for us as Christians. We need God’s light in our lives to grow spiritually and produce spiritual fruit. (Galatians 5:22)
“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
Sometimes, trees and plants need to be pruned to free them of things that hinder their growth. Sometimes, God prunes us the same way. He works in our lives in such a way as to get rid of the things that hinder us from growing and maximizing our capabilities.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:1-2)
What’s more, I think about how trees provide homes for animals and birds, and how plants and flowers often provide fragrance and medicine for physical ailments. We, too, should be hospitable to others, to open our homes to those in need, and to help the sick and needy. (Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2; James 1:27)
As I soaked up the beauty and peacefulness of nature around me while mentally noting the many lessons we can learn from God’s creation, a soft breeze caressed my cheek and gently blew my hair, reminding me of one more lesson.
The wind teaches us about God’s presence. We cannot see the wind itself, only the effects of it, like the rustling of tree leaves or our hair lifting up as the wind blows through it. Likewise, we cannot see God Himself, but we can see the evidence of Him all around us. Nature for one shows us the amazing wisdom of God as this article discusses. Additionally, God reveals His presence to us through difficult times by causing things to be said or done that comfort us like a mother’s kiss on our cheek or a father’s hand brushing across our hair, encouraging us.
“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
“God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24)