Elation to Deflation

On a recent outing to Colorado Bend State Park in Texas, I spotted a couple of large birds circling over the green waters of the Colorado River and was fortunate to have my telephoto lens already on the camera. I began shooting as they soared overhead, and swooped down near the observation deck my wife and I were standing on. In the past, I’ve gotten close up pictures of red tailed hawks, red shoulder hawks and even a couple bald eagles. Massive wing spans and the ease with which these impressive birds soared on the winds leaves you in awe of the beauty that God created. I was excited to see what the camera captured.

Using auto-focus trying to catch a bird in flight is a little tricky and very easy to get blurred pics. The upside of digital photography is that you can shoot a lot and not have to worry about using up film, developing pictures from negatives, and the cost that entails. After I got home, I loaded the SD card into my computer and checked to see if there were any decent shots. Fortunately there were quite a few and I was excited to zoom in capturing the beauty of these birds in flight.

Not being familiar with birds in Texas, I wondered what kind of hawk it was. I started checking for images of hawks with red heads, and to my dismay, found out that it was not a hawk at all, but a Turkey Vulture. What?!?!? The bubble burst, the cookie crumbled, I was deflated. Suddenly, the pictures were less valuable to me and my wife noticed the way I reacted. She thought “there’s a lesson in this” and she was right.

When I think of a hawk, it brings to mind hunter, fierce, dangerous. It’s what is written on a man’s heart and in his nature. Hawks are even mentioned in the Bible. Job 39:26 says, “Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars, Stretching his wings toward the south.”

When I think of buzzard, I think scavenger, dirty, death. They are also mentioned in the Bible.

Matthew 24:8 says, “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will flock together.” Not the picture you want to look at.

We tend to gravitate toward the nobler things in life and avoid what we consider “lesser things”. How often are we (am I) guilty of doing this with people? We’re much more comfortable with people who are “like us” and tend to avoid those that make us uncomfortable.

But Jesus did the exact opposite. The people the Jews considered “outcasts” found a welcome with Jesus – tax collectors, fishermen, prostitutes – these all found a man willing to accept them as they were, and offer them a chance to be rescued and given a life they could only dream of. Jesus had an encounter with the Pharisees (top religious people of the day) recorded in Mark 2:16,17

When the experts in the law and the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard this he said to them, “Those who are healthy don’t need a physician, but those who are sick do. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

So my takeaway from this experience is to expand my thinking about those I can engage with, who need to know the love and forgiveness that Jesus offers, and to be open to the Spirit’s leading about associating with people I wouldn’t ordinarily be with. We are all part of God’s wonderful creation and just like the vulture is no less valuable, there’s no person or group of people that are outside of God’s desire to reach and redeem.

I hope you will join me in showing the love of Jesus, with no strings attached.

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Deborah Nottingham

So teach us to number our days so that we can present to Thee a heart of wisdom. Psalms 90:12

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Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise - the fruit of lips that confess His name. Heb 13:15

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