My testimony, told through an American Bittern, of finding a Creator and Savior that was there all along…
“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:4
My daughter and I were only ten minutes into a four-day canoe trip through the Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp and already we had missed something. As a tourist-laden pontoon boat passed by, the naturalist on board pointed out an American Bittern camouflaged in the marsh grasses. We had paddled right past it, hidden in plain sight!
But we can’t be blamed. A prominent ornithology website says, “You’ll need sharp eyes to catch sight of an American Bittern. This streaky, brown and buff heron can materialize among the reeds, and disappear as quickly, especially when striking a concealment pose with neck stretched and bill pointed skyward.” With his bill pointed upward, our bittern blended in perfectly with the tall brown grasses that lined the water’s edge. Again, perfectly hidden in plain sight.
I began to remember that same “hidden-in-plain-sight” feeling just after surrendering my life to Jesus Christ while in college. As Christ continued to reveal Himself to me in those first days of salvation, I was mesmerized by the fact that the truth of the gospel had been there all along, right in front of my nose, but I never saw it. And over the years, as my love of the outdoors and my study of wildlife continued, the evidence of God’s hand as Creator became more and more obvious: overwhelming evidence of design, the complexity of biology, genetic programming within animals, the beauty found in nature… all things that point to a Designer. And they were all right there all along, hidden in plain sight.
But why don’t we see them? Two reasons: In part, we are blinded by an outside force. The Bible states that, “the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4). And we are also blinded by our own internal biases against the Bible that cause us not to see the evidence of God in creation. When speaking of the past creation and future destruction of this world, Peter wrote, “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water.” (2 Peter 3:5).
Even though my daughter and I paddled right by that Bittern and didn’t recognize his presence, he was still there. He was just hidden in plain sight and merely needed to be pointed out to us. For twenty years, I paddled right through life not noticing Christ. But when someone pointed Him out on December 1, 1993, I realized He was there all along, hidden in plain sight and the overwhelming evidence became more and more obvious.
Hi, I’m wildlife photographer and nature writer William Wise. I was saved under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology at the University of Georgia. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. I’m currently an animal shelter director and live in Athens, Georgia with my wife and two teenage daughters, who are all also actively involved in ministry. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation. — “What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.” Psalms 104, The Message.
Fantastic photos of a hard to find bittern. You application of God’s Word is so true. I have been reading some End Times books, and so many souls are not seeing the Lord’s salvation. So sad. Thankfully, many of us did find God Word was there all along “in plain sight.”
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Your captures are beautiful, William, as well as your message.
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The Bittern is a good analogy of the Truth being always there but we need a revelation combined with faith to see it. Thanks William for sharing.
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So true. I am always hesitant to say I “found” Christ, because, for the most part, I wasn’t looking! But just like in the story of the bittern where a park ranger pointed it out to me, it was a faithful Christian that came to the college campus, took the time to talk with students, and “pointed out” Christ to me. Thanks for commenting! William
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