We pray you have been blessed by this daily devotion. If you received it from a friend, you can see other devotions and studies by visiting our website at www.awordfortoday.org
A WORD FOR TODAY, July 19, 2021
“If I speak with the languages of men and of angels, but don’t have love, I have become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but don’t have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but don’t have love, it profits me nothing. Love is patient and is kind. Love doesn’t envy. Love doesn’t brag, is not proud, doesn’t behave itself inappropriately, doesn’t seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil; doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will be done away with. Where there are various languages, they will cease. Where there is knowledge, it will be done away with. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when that which is complete has come, then that which is partial will be done away with. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child. Now that I have become a man, I have put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, even as I was also fully known. But now faith, hope, and love remain - these three. The greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, WEB
I went to the zoo this morning. I love to go to the zoo. There are people who do not like zoos because there have been poor examples throughout history. Some people cruelly locked the animals in tiny cages to be gawked at and harassed by visitors. Even today there are practical problems at every zoo that cannot be easily solved to give the animals the best life possible. Most zoos honestly try to provide well for their animals and many zoos do much more than just showcase the animals.
Many zoos, including ours, have amazing breeding and educational programs that are working with organizations world-wide to supplement native populations of many animals. Some endangered species have actually been removed from the lists because zoo breeding programs have rebuilt their populations successful. Many of the habitats around our zoo have special signs that talk about those animals’ success stories. The zoo has been running summer camps for children; the educational programs teach the children about caring for the world. Zoos help us see animals up-close so that we can understand why it is so important to protect them in the wild.
I love the zoo because it gives me an opportunity to see many of God’s creatures that I would never be able to see. There aren’t usually lions or tigers or even bears walking down my suburban street. I have seen snakes, raccoons, squirrels, birds, skunks, possums, geckos and insects in my yard. I’ve seen deer down the street. I’ve heard that there are foxes and armadillos nearby. There are other wild animals within miles of my house, but it is unlikely that I’ll ever see one personally. Quite frankly, I don’t think I would want to come face to face with a mountain lion or a black bear without the safe walls of zoo enclosures.
The zoo offers us the opportunity to watch the animals as they interact with one another. We can learn so much from them. Animals are certainly not human but they seem to have personalities; sometimes they act very human. I have seen animals that remind me of people that I know.
My favorites are the big cats and the flamingos. If you time visits right, you can watch the flamingos go from mating dance to laying eggs to babies dancing around the habitat. I’ve seen chicks that are barely a few days old; they were adorable white fluff balls. I laughed as these tiny (as compared to the adults) birds tried to act like full grown birds. One tried desperately to stand on one leg, but it was still too wobbly. The chicks stretch their wings and act as if they are trying to fly. They wander through the puddles looking for food just like mom and dad, even though they are still fed by the adults.
It was really fun watching the adults with the chicks. One bird was what we might call a “helicopter mom.” You know the kind; these are the moms that are always hovering over the child, protecting her chick from every danger and every mistake. Another mom was never far from her chick but that one had much more freedom. It played freely in the mud and wandered among the crowd of adult birds that mingled in the shade. We know that kind of mom, too, don’t we?
Even with the differing parenting techniques, all the flamingo parents cared for their chicks. Would we describe it as love, like the love between people? Many scientists would probably say no, pointing to the fact that animals are driven by instinct and self-preservation. I don’t think they’ve spent much time simply watching the animals. As I watch the animals I can see how God is active in the world around us. All too often we rush through life trying to answer the questions that matter to us. In the process, however, we miss God’s subtle reminders of His love as revealed in His creation.
Love is often misunderstood. The image of love in this world is all romance and physical attraction, but in Christ we know a love that is different. God loved us so much that He gave His Son to die for a people that were self-centered and unrighteous. We are so much like the animals, which is why it is so easy for us to see human characteristics in their antics.
Paul describes the love we know in Christ. Love means being patient, love means giving tender loving care. Love means being happy with what you have and rejoicing with your neighbor for their blessings. Love never fails. We are called and gifted to share His love in this world, as imperfectly as we might. Unfortunately, we can see negative human characteristics in the animals, too: impatience, enviousness, boasting, self-satisfaction and anger. These are the imperfections that get in our way of loving. These are the sounding brass and clanging cymbals which remind us that we are not God. The only true love comes from our heavenly Father. Thankfully He reminds us in incredible ways, like the antics of His Creation, so that we can see His love in real and very tangible ways.