A few evenings ago I was cutting grass along the shoulder of the road while my neighbor was cutting down and sectioning a dead tree in his front yard. As I was trudging behind my push mower, my neighbor was hauling away the logs of the hollowed out pine. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed he quickly dropped a log and so thinking that he needed help I shut off the mower and met him in his front yard. He looked at me and said, “I think there is a snake with a bird in the log.” Not wanting to pass up this act of nature and I had a look for myself and sure enough, there was a king snake coiled around the remains of a bird. Apparently earlier in the day the bird flew into the hollow of the tree and was surprised by a visitor for dinner.
When I left this morning I noticed in my neighbor’s front yard the log still in place, presumably with the snake ensconced in it digesting its meal. I have a feeling the log will remain for the foreseeable future.
Not-so-pleasant surprises come in all forms: snakes in the grass, yellow-jackets in the shrubbery, or bats in the eaves. I suppose at times it feels like nature is working against us, but then again nature usually does what it is supposed to do.
What about our nature; how do we live and act according to our nature? The evidence is mixed. We pollute the earth and our bodies; we exact great harm upon others out of vengeance; we repackage envy and call it ambition; and we revision greed and name it a virtue.
And yet…it is also our nature that we bear the image of God. This in itself is too marvelous to understand, but can be seen if we pay attention. I see in others great acts of sacrifice, not because it can be defended economically, but out of a deep and mysterious love. I witness bold stances on truth and justice, even though it may bring derision and ridicule.
A few years ago I shared a story I read once about a monk rescuing a scorpion from a spider web. The monk would reach to disentangle the scorpion but would get stung in the process. Still the monk continued until finally the scorpion was set free. One of the novices asked the monk, “Why did you try to save the scorpion, when you knew it was going to sting you?” The monk replied, “It is the scorpions nature to kill; it is my nature to save.”
Some say it is in our nature that sin abounds, and I suppose this is true. The testimony of our planet is evidence enough. But I say God has created us for more than to abide according to our lesser nature. We are image-bearers of the Holy.
Let’s surprise the world with something better than what we are seeing!
In God’s Immutable Love,