Hidden in Plain Sight

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

The American Bittern, a master of camouflage; Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia. March 13, 2019. ©www.williamwisephoto.com.

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.

American Bittern; Okefenokee Swamp Georgia. March 13, 2019. ©www.williamwisephoto.com.

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.

Satisfying Shallows and Delightful Depths

“He led me through water to the ankles…, he led me through water to the knees…, he led me through water that was up to the waist. He measured off another thousand, and it was a river that I could not pass over.” Ezekiel 47:1-5

Bonaparte`s Gulls frolicking in ocean surf, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. March 2019. ©www.williamwisephoto.com

Birdwatching. Birding. Ornithology. In most minds, those three terms conjure differing depths of avian appreciation. Bird enthusiasm ranges from the simple enjoyment of backyard birds, to submerging in state lists and big years, and even deeper into the intellectual fathoms of anatomy and natural history. The books upon the shelf range from Your Backyard Feeder to Latin Terms for Taxonomists.

In the same manner, the Bible is book of unending fathomage. From inspiring daily devotionals, to word studies and commentaries, and into the depths of theology, the Sacred Writ can be enjoyed and experienced on so many different levels.

Stack of Antique New Testament Bibles. ©www.williamwisephoto.com

But is one level of devotee better than another? Is the ornithologist more serious or dedicated than a birder? Is the theologian more important than the lay congregant? Are we only dipping in our toes when we should be swimming deeper? Are we drowning in the depths and neglecting the satisfaction of the shallows?

In reality, one can be all things, or be what one desires! In his chapter of Good Birders Still Don’t Wear White, David A. La Puma writes, “Find out what you love about birds and dive in; the pool of knowledge is deep and rich and full of others happy to help you along the way.” An ornithologist can still enjoy birdwatching just as a theologian should still delight in daily devotionals.

Our Christian life and experience, just like birding, should enjoy the shallows, wade into the depths, dive the deep ocean trenches, and swim back again. Just as you would enjoy cardinals and chickadees at your backyard feeder, or decide to tackle identifying the gulls, sparrows and peeps, enjoy your yearly reading plan through the New Testament and Psalms, and simultaneously sound the depths of Biblical wisdom and application. Find out what you love about the Word of God in this season of life and dive in. The only wrong thing to do is to completely dry up!


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.

Words and Birds of Encouragement: Habitat Restoration

Self-isolation blues, financial troubles, loved ones fallen ill, fear of contracting coronavirus… these weights are burdening many. On top of that, we may be unable to congregate in our churches or visit our favorite birding spots. Although a pale substitute for both, I pray you are uplifted by this short series of Words and Birds of Encouragement. For what can be more encouraging than the birds of this world and words of the world to come! William

Snowy Egret wading in a salt marsh tidal flat at Mitchelville Fish Haul Beach Park on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. May 2019. ©www.williamwisephoto.com.

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 2 Peter 3:10, 13

Things aren’t that bad (yet). But even if they were, and all upon this earth were destroyed, God has promised a divine habitat restoration project. Think of how our beautiful egrets and herons suffered, senselessly extirpated by plume hunters and habitat destruction. Yet human efforts restored their populations.

How much more our heavenly Creator will restore all things in the New Heaven and the New Earth… no matter how bad things become. Yes, we look forward to paradise with a new heaven and new earth, and with new bodies, but you can also have “new” here now: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).


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. William Wise Nature Notes is my wildlife and birding photo blog documenting the beauty, design and wonder of God’s 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.

Words and Birds of Encouragement: Overcomer

Self-isolation blues, financial troubles, loved ones fallen ill, fear of contracting coronavirus… these weights are burdening many. On top of that, we may be unable to congregate in our churches or visit our favorite birding spots. Although a pale substitute for both, I pray you are uplifted by this short series of Words and Birds of Encouragement. For what can be more encouraging than the birds of this world and words of the world to come! William

Male Yellow-rumped Warbler in bright breeding plumage. Athens, Clarke County, Georgia, USA. April 2018. ©www.williamwisephoto.com.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. Revelation 2:7

We are called to make it through the days of trial and adversity. But we aren’t supposed to just grit our teeth and endure, coming out the other side angrier than we went in, like Godzilla breaking from the rubble of a building collapsed upon him. Instead, we are to be overcomers; we are to pass through trial and adversity with our testimony intact!

And to the overcomer there is a reward: like the Yellow-rumped Warblers that eat the late winter fruits of the holly and Wax Myrtle, we will dine upon the fruit of the tree of life in the paradise of God! This virus quarantine will end in a harvest of souls into the church as the doors re-open. So keep your chin up, overcomer, greater days approach… in this world and the next!


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. William Wise Nature Notes is my wildlife and birding photo blog documenting the beauty, design and wonder of God’s 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.

Words and Birds of Encouragement: Reverse the Curse

Self-isolation blues, financial troubles, loved ones fallen ill, fear of contracting coronavirus… these weights are burdening many. On top of that, we may be unable to congregate in our churches or visit our favorite birding spots. Although a pale substitute for both, I pray you are uplifted by this short series of Words and Birds of Encouragement. For what can be more encouraging than the birds of this world and words of the world to come! William

Healthy male House Finch; Clarke County, Georgia. April, 2015. ©www.williamwisephoto.com.

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse.” Revelation 22:1-3

Coronavirus is a curse. All viruses that bring sickness and death are a result of the curse. And that curse pronounced in Genesis 3 didn’t affect man alone, but “this thing all things devours: birds, beasts, trees, flowers.” I’ve seen the curse of disease first-hand as a House Finch confusedly flew through my backyard unable to find the feeder.

House Finch Eye Disease infection.

But God promises a reverse of the curse and a restoration of paradise! One day, we will walk along the river among the fruiting trees. We, and all the other creatures, bird and beast alike, will be free of disease. Without a coronavirus face mask to block our view, we will adoringly look upon the Lamb seated upon the throne!


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. William Wise Nature Notes is my wildlife and birding photo blog documenting the beauty, design and wonder of God’s 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.

Words and Birds of Encouragement: Paradise

Self-isolation blues, financial troubles, loved ones fallen ill, fear of contracting coronavirus… these weights are burdening many. On top of that, we may be unable to congregate in our churches or visit our favorite birding spots. Although a pale substitute for both, I pray you are uplifted by this short series of Words and Birds of Encouragement. For what can be more encouraging than the birds of this world and words of the world to come! William

Orange-crowned Warbler; Walton County, Georgia. December, 2019. ©www.williamwisephoto.com.

“Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’” Luke 23:43

What will paradise be like? Let your imagination roll… sunsets without haze and smog; rivers and lakes without floating trash; streets filled with smiling people free of anger and worry; and clear, wide blue skies filled with the flight of birds… and no window strikes! And even better, we will walk in the cool of the garden with our Lord and Savior whose blood re-opens the door to Eden.  It will be paradise for all! It may not be today (but then again, it may!). Even so, come, Lord Jesus.


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. William Wise Nature Notes is my wildlife and birding photo blog documenting the beauty, design and wonder of God’s 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.