Birdwatching: Medicine for My Soul

August 27, 2014

Osprey with Fish

I love this perspective from Paul Tripp:

“When you are struglling with anxiety, look at creation. Embedded in the physical world are constant reminders that God does not abandon the work of his hands.”

Tripp appropriately spiritualizes something that I have experienced but had never really contemplated sufficiently.  My tendency has long been to retreat into creation – whether it be the mountains of Tennessee, or the forests and river beaches here in Hampton Roads, or wherever – just to regain a sense of peace. I am reminded of God’s greatness and presence in such places.  And while I have long understood, advocated, and preached that standing on a mountain top or on the ocean shores can offer a sense of God’s awesomeness and beauty, I don’t know that I have really given adequate thought to the the practical theological principle behind the practice that relieves angst.  

I am reminded of Jesus’ counsel in Matthew 6:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious 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: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you,O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.

As Tripp suggested: “Bird watching is good for the soul.”  

Despite what relatively little knowledge I have about ornithology, I now see how beneficial it can be to periodically spend some time quietly watching the birds go about their business and their play.  Not only does it provide for tranquill moments, bird watching offers a much needed and refreshing reminder: If birds live stress free lives, how much more should I.  For while the birds were created to bring pleasure to the Creator, I am one made after the image of God; and as a consequence of the union I have with Jesus, through faith in his redeemeing work, I am one who is (admittedly undeservedly) among those who are the objects of the Father’s affection. If God loves the birds, how much more those who are in Christ – even me!

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