It’s funny how God can reveal himself to us through little things that we might not even be thinking about. For instance, I certainly wasn’t really expecting a revelation of any kind a couple of weeks ago when I took my son dove hunting. However, since we went God has shown me the intricacy and beauty of His creation in new and interesting ways.
It was James’ first time hunting birds, and frankly I hadn’t been in forever. I am just getting back into hunting in reality; I hunted birds and varmints as a teenager during the summer, but moving around in the Navy and being occupied with work and babies and seminary just didn’t leave time for much recreation. Now I am trying to make some quality time with my son, and hunting gives us whole days together while allowing me to rekindle an old passion.
What I have noticed about my renewed interest in hunting is how much more observant I am while out in the world. We have birds that come near our house because we are near a park, and before we went hunting I just thought of them as birds. However, now I find that when I see a bird I wonder what kind of bird it is. (when dove hunting it will not do at all to shoot a killdeer!) Even within the dove family there are different species that can be discerned by their tail feathers, their colors, their call, and their flight patterns. How fascinating to see, and how wonderful! I noticed the same when we went hunting for squirrel and rabbit, in that all the small details began to be important to me.
Now, even when I am not hunting I am paying attention to the animals around me. While running yesterday I got to see about 3 dozen dove (3 different species!), 2 cotton-tailed rabbits, and a small covey of quail! Plus I saw killdeer, woodpeckers, sparrows, and a hawk. I got to thank God and remember what He has told us about His world:
The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. (Psalm 19:1, NASB)
I thought about this today in other areas as well. How often are we unobservant about not only God’s creation, but God’s people? How many times do we walk right by someone who is hurting and in need of God’s love, and because we are so preoccupied with our own lives we walk right by without noticing. How many times do we not know of a ministry need in our church because we are not paying attention to the details?
This comes to a real head in Bible study. As Christians we are told that God’s word is useful to make us who God wants us to be (2 Tim 3:16-17), and that it pierces us to the soul to see what our heart is (Heb 4:12). When we study it, though, are we really paying attention or are we just confirming our already existing biases?
In A Scandal in Bohemia, Mr. Watson marvels at Sherlock Holmes’ uncanny ability to solve cases using seemingly scant evidence. When Holmes replies that he uses only what is plain for anyone to observe, Watson retorts that he sees the same things as Holmes and yet cannot solve the case. Holmes’ reply is telling, “You see, but you do not observe.”
God is showing me through doves and quail and rabbits that the small details matter, and that there are details all around that I have been missing. My prayer for you today is that you would stop a moment and recover the ability to observe. Stop today and read your Bible. Don’t just see it; observe it and see what it truly says. Stop today and pay attention to what’s going on around you. Look at your spouse and what’s going on in their life and really observe them. Same for your kids, and your coworkers. Do that today and this coming week, and I am willing to bet that you will begin to observe details that will cause you to come to the same place that I have this week.