From our dear friend Joel Barton:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
One of my hobbies is photography. These past several months many of the places I might go indoors to explore, or to spend time with other people have been closed due to the pandemic situation. On weekends I have taken many short trips to parks and outdoor sites across northern Ohio that I have not visited for a long time, or ever visited. Some evenings I will go to places like the Rocky River Reservation of the MetroParks to walk around and take pictures. Below are two pictures that I took one evening at Frostville.
These are both skippers, which some consider to be in between butterflies and moths because of their appearance. They really live and behave more like butterflies, I think, so I agree with those who consider them butterflies. The yellowish spotted one is a fiery skipper. The one with a large whitish patch on the wing is a silver spotted skipper. Both types appear at the same types of flowers looking for nectar. It is interesting to just stand and watch their behavior. They pick out the flower that looks best to them and go to work gathering nectar. There are usually a number of each type bouncing among the flowers. Whenever a fiery skipper notices a silver spotted skipper near enough to its own vicinity, it will leave its flower in order to try to drive the silver spotted skipper further away from the area. And vice versa. They look almost like miniature fighter planes trying to knock each other from the sky. They are very territorial, and don’t seem to have any instinct to share the bounty with each other. However, they do seem to be more tolerant of others of their own kind that are nearby. They are beautiful pieces of God’s creation. Like all animals they are endowed with an instinct for survival, and abilities and behaviors that enable them to survive, reproduce, and carry on their species. Watching them reminded me of human beings.
We also have an instinct for survival, and abilities and instincts that enable us to survive, reproduce, and carry on our species. During the pandemic challenge I think people are reverting more to those base instincts. In public people wear masks, which is mandated and advisable, but also somewhat impersonal. Distancing guidelines cause people to protect their personal space more. It seems that people are less likely to speak to strangers on a casual or friendly level. Being made in God’s image we also have much more than base instincts. We have a spirit and an eternal nature. We have a personal connection with our Creator. We have the ability to understand and practice right and wrong in His sight. As we learn throughout the Bible practicing right and wrong usually involves our relationship with God and our relationships with other people.
Instead of following the example of the skippers in dealing with others around us, let us consider the words of Peter:
“Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing. For the Scriptures say,
‘If you want to enjoy life
and see many happy days,
keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies.
Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
and his ears are open to their prayers.
But the Lord turns his face
against those who do evil’
(1 Peter 3:8-12, NLT).
Our animal instincts might tell us to provide for ourselves first, and to not let others intrude on our well-being. We have a natural concern to protect our families. That is instinctual, but also stressed as a responsibility by God. In the verses above Peter reminds us that our concern also needs to be for others, considering them to be family. He challenges us to sympathize, be tenderhearted, and humble. Instinct tells us to treat others the same way they treat us. God wants us to do better and rise above instinct.
It might be tempting to then think, “Well, if I’m worrying about doing the right thing for others instead of myself, who is going to take care of me?” God is. Peter says that “He will grant you His blessing.” He then quotes part of Psalm 34, which speaks exactly to the instruction he is giving. The result of keeping our tongue from evil, turning from evil and doing good, and searching for and maintaining peace is great. We can expect to enjoy life and see many happy days. We are also reminded that the eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and His ears are open to their prayers.
I am certainly glad that we aren’t limited by our animal instincts. We can be truly blessed when we rise above them and consider others in the way He wants us to consider them. When we feel anxious or vulnerable He is with us. He will care for us much in a much better way than we could ever care for ourselves through our own devices.
Take heart and be encouraged!