Encouragement for Thursday

Last night after work I had the opportunity to take a walk through the woods in the Rocky River Metropark. I always enjoy these walks because they help to take my mind off of my personal concerns and job pressures. I am reminded of the greater world that God created. Last night I have to admit a bit of sadness because I could tell that the change of seasons is beginning. I will admit now that I am a summer kind of guy. I like the warm weather even more as I age. I like the activity that I can see in nature, with plants in bloom and producing fruit. Animals and insects are in their active stages, reproducing and preparing for the colder seasons that are coming. Last night I could tell that many of the wildflowers have stopped blooming. There are still some beautiful ones, like the jewelweed and black-eyed susans. Leaves have fallen from some trees. There are far fewer insects active. I saw the bodies of many bees and wasps that have ended their lifecycle as cold weather comes.

There is still beauty in nature. You might have to look a little harder or in different places to find it. There is a picture attached to this message. Some of you probably looked at it and said, “Ewww….is that a slug?” Yes it is. It is a gray garden slug, one of Ohio’s most common ones. They live in many places outside of gardens, like the woods. I happened to notice this one as I was looking at mushrooms. They are known to chew up many types of plants in gardens. You might ask, “What good are they?” Remember that the manicured gardens that people have planted various flowers and vegetables in are not exactly natural. In their natural habitat like the woods, slugs stay close to the ground in the moist, dark areas that not a lot of other creatures like to visit. Why? That is where they find their food and fulfill their role in God’s scheme of things. They eat things like this mushroom and other decaying plant matter. They eat dead insect bodies and other rotting things that only their relatives the land snails, worms, and other insects would eat. Think of them as God’s tiny natural vacuum cleaners. He knew what He was doing in creating the creatures that exist on Earth. When I looked at this slug, I even saw a natural beauty in it. It has some beautiful natural color, and a nice shiny, yet ridged texture. When you zoom in really close on the picture you can even see its tiny eye at the end of one of their stalks, and the tiny fringed edge on its body that, along with its slippery covering, enables it to move. What an amazing design!

People are often repulsed by slugs. They think they are ugly and gross. In God’s purposes, there are things more important than outward beauty. I am reminded of a chapter in Scripture that we have all heard probably many times—1 Samuel 16. In this chapter Samuel has come to Jesse’s house to meet the one that God has chosen to be the next king of Israel. Jesse brought in seven of his sons to meet Samuel. They were strong, impressive and good-looking men. Yet none of them were the one that God chose. Only after asking was the youngest son, who was tending the sheep in the field, brought in. David was God’s chosen one. I think it is rather symbolic that he was tending the sheep when he was brought in. At first Samuel thought Jesse’s son Eliab might be the chosen one. God soon corrected him:

“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

By nature, people tend to be affected by outward appearances. This principle applies to everything in our world. We favor the lovely and reject the unlovely. We love butterflies and don’t love slugs. I believe this extends to how we see people, even if it is unconsciously. Thankfully God doesn’t have this characteristic. Beauty to Him is in the heart. Even though we might feel more like a slug than a butterfly, we are beautiful to God because of what is in our hearts. Never forget than even slugs have a purpose that God intended to benefit the world He created. How much greater is our role in His world!

Take heart and be encouraged!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s