Busy Hummingbirds, Oblivious to Spectators
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
As the cooling days of September fall from the calendar, like the abscission of colorful autumn leaves, the shelf-life of flower nectar nears its expiry date. For just a few more days, the nectar pantries of bright-hued flowers are “open for business”, ready to feed the voracious appetites of neighborhood hummingbirds — those petite, iridescence-sparkled, blurry-winged wonders with super-sized metabolic fuel needs. Floral nectar is a sweet resource! Yet, as winter approaches, such fly-by “fast-food” opportunities cannot be taken for granted, especially if one is an energy-craving hummingbird.
Hummingbirds are famous for their (males’) jewel-like throats, their hovering and multi-directional flying, and their ability to change directions — stop, go, up, down, left, right, backward, forward, — using high-speed wings that whip figure-eight patterns faster than human eyes can follow, producing a humming sound (that explains their name) that almost sounds like a contented cat purring. Hummingbirds, due to their speedy, darting movements, and their iridescent green colors, attract the eye. So you see them – zip! – then you don’t. Zip! – then you see them again. The summer range of hummingbirds (such as the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Archilochus colubris) is broad enough that most of us have seen hummingbirds, though it is unlikely that we ever see one relaxing! No time to relax — their needle-like bills must sip up nectar where and when it is available!
The business of a hummingbird’s life is so intense, so metabolically demanding, that slurping up available nectar is a lifestyle priority, requiring dietary focus and persistence: “Get nectar, get more nectar, get even more nectar! Hurry, hurry, hurry!” Sugar substitutes are unacceptable for hummingbirds – they must have real sugar to thrive. See Elizabeth Mitchell, “Our Creator’s Sweet Design for Hummingbird Taste”, with a link (in its Footnote #1) to video footage of hummingbird sugar consumption. (Obviously hummingbirds are a living exhibit that refutes “natural selection” mythology — see Frank Sherwin, “Hummingbirds at ICR”, Acts & Facts, 35(9), September 2006 issue.
What an enormous appetite for such a miniature bird! The calories consumed and burned by hummingbirds, on a boy weight ratio, are comparable to a human eating more than a 1000 hamburgers every day, as body fuel needed for a day’s normal activities! (See Denis Dreves, “The Hummingbird: God’s Tiny Miracle”, subtitled “If you operated at this bird’s energy level, you would burst into flames!”.
It is no surprise, therefore, that a hungry hummingbird hovered by brilliant vermillion flowers, in a garden spot I casually visited, as he (or she) slurped up nectar from one flower, then another flower, then another, — without any (apparent) concern for my physical presence or proximity, only a few steps from him (or her). Why was the buzzing hummer oblivious of me, the birdwatcher so close by?
The hungry hummer was too preoccupied with the pressing business of life, to notice me, a quiet spectator. What a privilege it was, to watch – for a long time, actually – this sparkling-in-the-sunlight hummingbird, darting among the bright flowers.
Yet are not our own lives, at least somewhat, like that busy hummingbird? Are we not – day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, moment by moment – preoccupied with the ever-pressing business of life, darting here-and-there, from this task to the next one, such that we often ignore the spectators, those watching eyes who observe and appreciate our lives – those who (hopefully) see God’s beauty and wisdom imaged in our own attitudes and actions?
Yes, we have audiences we should not be oblivious of. As we live the moments of our fast-paced lives we should not forget three audiences, who watch us much more than we consciously realize.
First, there are many curious humans who watch our busy lives, especially those who are younger than us. What kind of role-models are we? Hopefully our Christian lives are like the Thessalonian believers whom Paul commended as examples to all of the believers in Macedonia and Greece (1st Thessalonians 1:7). Who is watching us? Who is listening? Who is evaluating the message(s) of our lives, comparing our “walk” to our “talk”? Do our lives “shine” as God’s testifying “lights” (Matthew 5:16), such that our good deeds prompt spectators to glorify God our Heavenly Father?
Second, there are non-human spectators watching our lives: angels! Angels learn from watching the “spectacle” of human lives (1st Corinthians 4:9 & 11:10). Indeed, the effect of God’s gospel of grace, in the earthly lives of redeemed humans, is something that angels can only learn about as spectators (1st Peter 1:12, since redemption is never experienced by angels.
Yet the most important audience we have, always, is the Lord Himself (Jehovah-jireh, the God Who is and sees). Our primary audience, always, is our omniscient and omnipresent Creator-God. It is our wonderful Maker Who watches every sparrow’s avian lifespan, and we are of much greater value to God than the lives of many sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31; Luke 12:7). As the Lord Jesus Christ’s vicarious death and resurrection has peremptorily proved, for all time and eternity, we are God’s favorite creatures. God is caringly concerned with every detail of our busy lives (from creation to ultimate redemption), so let us not be oblivious to our most important Audience. Do we live our earthly lives as ingrates, ignoring Him and His Word? Or do we live life appreciative of Him and His Word, grateful that He created us and provided us with redemption in Christ?
Accordingly, with these three audiences in mind, as spectators of our busy lives, let us consider the prophet Ezekiel’s serious question (Ezekiel 33:10): “how should we then live?”
By James J. S. Johnson