I met an old friend on my canal walk recently: the heron.

I met an old friend on my canal walk recently: the heron. I hadn’t seen him for weeks, but there he was, wading in the shallows on the far bank. He seemed comfortable with me around so I sat, watching as he stalked for fish. First, his head darted forward while his body remained still; then his head stayed motionless as one leg came forward. Then the head darted forward and stilled as the other leg progressed. His grace was breath-taking. Why, I wondered, would evolution produce something so beautiful? How the heron moves helps it catch fish, of course; but why does it need to look so magnificent to another species (me)? With my Bible as a guide, I thought how my friend glorified God, giving Him pleasure just by moving the way he did. Genesis says that God saw what He had made before He declared it good (Genesis 1v4). As I enjoyed the heron’s grace, I was struck with a surprising thought. The God who made the heron made me too – he and I had something in common. By doing what he was created for (moving elegantly and catching fish) this heron glorified God. Yet, am I doing what God created me to do? God didn’t give the heron and me the same thing to do; but I was made by Him – in His image and likeness, in fact. This has implications for how I live, especially now I’ve come to believe in His Son, the only person ever to perfectly show God’s image and likeness. I know there are times I don’t do what God created me to do. But the heron always does. So did Jesus. As I sat by the canal, I remembered how the prophet Jeremiah used the birds to show the people of Judah the difference between Godly obedience and disobedience: “Even the stork in the sky knows her seasons; and the turtledove and the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But My people do not know the ordinance of the LORD” (Jeremiah 8v7, NASB 1995). All these creatures know exactly what God made them to do, and do it instinctively. But Judah didn’t. I must learn the lesson Judah failed to learn, and first find out what God expects of me. I’ll walk that canal again soon, and hope I’ll see my friend the heron once more. First published in The Testimony, September 2021 pershore.bible pershore-christadelphians.org

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