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.

Why Red?

My backyard bird feeder is always alive with flashes of red. The Northern Cardinals are daily visitors for free helpings of sunflower seeds. As one catches my eye, I ponder, why red?

Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Red Northern Cardinal Bird

Northern Cardinal; Clarke County, GA. ©www.williamwisephoto.com

Most animals blend into their surroundings. But not the Cardinal. He flashes about in a scarlet garment heralding his presence for all to see. Why would a small bird, an easy prey, want to wear such colors? As I meditate what creation would speak, red conjures two images: the stain of sin and the source of salvation.

THE STAIN OF SIN…

Red catches our attention, and normally for something of which we must take heed. We use it on our warning signs and labels; red hangs at every intersection to prevent disorderly collisions.

In Isaiah 1:18, red is used as a bold simile illustrating the blatant sins of the people. All that they do and say is stained with the crimson of sin. Although sin may blend in as the “norm of society”, it stands out to God’s eyes. Isaiah the preacher points out this scarlet warning sign, and begs the people to heed the warning and repent.

THE SOURCE OF SALVATION…

But another profound Biblical use of the color red is that of blood. From the blood of Abel, through the atoning sacrifices of the Israelites; of the thread in the window which saved Rahab and her entire family, to the saving Blood shed upon Calvary’s cross, the entire Bible is stained red with blood.

Though normally a gruesome sight for most, the red blood of the Bible is hope; it is cleansing. The sins of the people of Isaiah’s day stand out like red stained clothing. But it is the red colored blood of the new covenant which is able to remove that stain.

“Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood”
Revelation 1:5

Though I may be pushing things by stretching the color of a bird into a mini-sermon, I’d rather have the red Northern Cardinal remind of the warning of sin and of the hope of salvation, than to stand for a red-robed religious official for whom it is said the Cardinal is named!


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. I am also a guest author at Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures and The Creation Club. — “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.

Avian and Attributes – Stripes

Stripe-backed Bittern (Ixobrychus involucris) ©Drawing WikiC

Stripe-backed Bittern (Ixobrychus involucris) ©Drawing WikiC

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5 KJV)

Stripe
STRIPE, n.
1. A line or long narrow division of any thing, of a different color from the ground as a stripe of red on a green ground; hence, any linear variation of color.
2. A strip or long narrow piece attached to something of a different color; as a long stripe sewed upon a garment.
3. The weal or long narrow mark discolored by a lash or rod.
4. A stroke made with a lash, whip, rod, strap or scourge.
Forty stripes may he give him, and not exceed. Deu 25.
[A blow with a club is not a stripe.]
5. Affliction; punishment; sufferings.
By his stripes are we healed. Isa 53.
STRIPE, v.t.
1. To make stripes; to form with lines of different colors; to variegate with stripes.
2. To stripe; to lash. [Little used.]

There are quite a few birds that have the word Stripe in their name. The first three birds below are called Stripe-backed, as that is what the Lord’s back must have looked like after He was beaten.

Stripe-backed Antbird (Myrmorchilus strigilatus)

Stripe-backed Antbird (Myrmorchilus strigilatus) ©Drawing WikiC

Stripe-backed Antbird (Myrmorchilus strigilatus) ©Drawing WikiC

Stripe-backed Bittern (Ixobrychus involucris) (Shown above)
Stripe-backed Wren (Campylorhynchus nuchalis)

Stripe-backed Wren (Campylorhynchus nuchalis) ©WikiC

Stripe-backed Wren (Campylorhynchus nuchalis) ©WikiC

Other birds with Striped in their name:
Striped Crake (Aenigmatolimnas marginalis)
Striped Cuckoo (Tapera naevia)
Striped Flowerpecker (Dicaeum aeruginosum)
Striped Flufftail (Sarothrura affinis)
Striped Honeyeater (Plectorhyncha lanceolata)
Striped Kingfisher (Halcyon chelicuti)
Striped Laughingthrush (Trochalopteron virgatum)

Striped Owl (Pseudoscops clamator)
Striped Pipit (Anthus lineiventris)
Striped Sparrow (Oriturus superciliosus)
Striped Treehunter (Thripadectes holostictus)
Striped Woodcreeper (Xiphorhynchus obsoletus)
Striped Woodpecker (Veniliornis lignarius)
Striped Wren-Babbler (Kenopia striata)

“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:21-25 KJV)


More Avian and Attributes

Birds whose first or last name starts with “S”

Good News

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[Definitions from Webster’s Dictionary of American English (1828), unless noted. Bird info from Wikipedia plus.]

Green-tailed Sunbird – Wordless Bird

Green-tailed Sunbird (Aethopyga nipalensis) by Peter Ericsson

The green-tailed sunbird (Aethopyga nipalensis) or Nepal yellow-backed sunbird is a species of bird in the family Nectariniidae.

It is found in the northern regions of the Indian subcontinent, stretching eastwards into parts of Southeast Asia.

Its natural habitats are temperate forests and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests. In southeast Szechwan and Yunnan, it lives in open mountain woods with moss-covered trees, from 1825 to 3350 meters elevation.

When viewing this bird, the Wordless Book/Wordless Birds came to mind. Let’s see if we can find all the colors need.

There is definitely Gold/yellow on this beautifully created Sunbird from our Creator.

Green-tailed Sunbird (Aethopyga nipalensis) ©WikiC male

“This GOLD bird reminds us of Heaven. The Bible tells us Heaven has a street of gold! But the best part about Heaven is that God, who created you and me, lives there. The Bible, God’s Word, says: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” — John 3:16 Jesus, God the Son, is in Heaven preparing a place for all who put their trust in Him. (John 14:2-3) God is holy and perfect. He cannot allow anything in Heaven that is less than perfect, so there’s one thing that can never be in Heaven. Can you think of what that might be?”

Black/Dark is the next color in the Wordless Book/Birds

Green-tailed Sunbird (Aethopyga nipalensis) ©WikiC male

It is sin! That is what this DARK bird reminds us of. Sin is anything you think, say, or do that does not please God, like lying, cheating, being selfish, or hurting others. The Bible says: “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” — Romans 3:23 That means everyone, big or little, young or old! No matter where you live or who you are, you have sinned. Everyone is born with a “want to” to do wrong. God says that sin must be punished (Romans 6:23), and the punishment for sin is to be separated from God forever in a place of suffering….a place called Hell. But God has a wonderful plan so that you will not have to be punished for your sin!

Red is next which stands for Sin

Green-tailed Sunbird (Aethopyga nipalensis) by Peter Ericsson

God sent Jesus Christ, His perfect Son, to be born as a little baby. Jesus lived a perfect life….He never sinned. When He was grown, wicked men nailed Him to a cross. This bird is RED reminding us of Jesus’ blood. The Bible says that without the giving of blood there can be no forgiveness of sin (Hebrews 9:22). So Jesus Christ willingly died to take your sin punishment. “…Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures.“— 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 Now, because of what Jesus has done for you, you can have your sins forgiven. Read on to see how!

White is a little harder to find on the Green-backed Sunbird, but this Lovely Sunbird has plenty of white. It is in the same family.

Lovely Sunbird (Aethopyga shelleyi) ©WikiC

The Bible says: “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believed on His name.” — John 1:12 The WHITE bird reminds us of a CLEAN heart. How can you have a clean heart? A = Admit to God you are a sinner and want to turn away from those sins. B = Believe in Jesus Christ, that He is God’s perfect Son who died for your sin, was buried, and rose again. C = Call on Him to save you from your sin. Would you like to do that right now? He has promised to hear, and once you are His child, He will never leave you (Hebrews 13:5). Take a moment and talk to God right now. It will change your life forever. Only one more color! What can it mean?

Green is for Growth after you accept the Lord as your personal Savior.

Green-tailed Sunbird (Aethopyga nipalensis) by Peter Ericsson

The GREEN bird stands for things that grow. When you ask God to forgive you and save you, you become His child. God wants you to get to know Him better and to grow to become more like Him. These four things will help you grow:

1. PRAY (talk to God every day)
2. READ & OBEY THE BIBLE (to know what He says, then do it)
3. TELL OTHERS ABOUT JESUS
4. GO TO A BIBLE-BELIEVING CHURCH (where you can learn more about pleasing Him)

As a child of God, if you should sin again, stop and tell Him about it. He promises in His Word… “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” — 1 John 1:9 Ask God to help you live a life to please Him! Share the Good News of this story with someone else.


The Wordless Book has been used for many years by CEF (Child Evangelism Fellowship). These words are from CEF.

See more Wordless Birds

Amazing Grace – Andre Rieu

Thought you might enjoy this video.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

Graceful Prinia (Prinia gracilis) by Nikhil Devasar

Graceful Prinia (Prinia gracilis) by Nikhil Devasar

T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Injured Roseate Spoonbill at Flamingo Gardens by Lee

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea) Neal Addy Gallery

Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea) Neal Addy Gallery

The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis) ©WikiC

When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.


Birds in Hymns

What will you do with Jesus?

 

Avian And Attributes – Sacred

Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus) by Ian

“Consecrate a fast, Call a sacred assembly; Gather the elders And all the inhabitants of the land Into the house of the LORD your God, And cry out to the LORD.” (Joel 1:14 NKJV)


Avian and Attributes – Sacred

SA’CRED, a. [L. sacer, sacred, holy, cursed, damnable. We here see the connection between sacredness and secrecy. The sense is removed or separated from that which is common, vulgar, polluted, or open, public; and accursed is separated from society or the privileges of citizens, rejected, banished.]
1. Holy; pertaining to God or to his worship; separated from common secular uses and consecrated to God and his service; as a sacred place; a sacred day; a sacred feast; sacred service; sacred orders.
2. Proceeding from God and containing religious precepts; as the sacred books of the Old and New Testament.
3. Narrating or writing facts respecting God and holy things; as a sacred historian.
4. Relating to religion or the worship of God; used for religious purposes; as sacred songs; sacred music; sacred history.
5. Consecrated; dedicated; devoted; with to.
A temple sacred to the queen of love.
6. Entitled to reverence; venerable.
Poet and saint to thee alone were given, the two most sacred names of earth and heav’n.
7. Inviolable, as if appropriated to a superior being; as sacred honor or promise.
Secrets of marriage still are sacred held.
Sacred majesty. In this title, sacred has no definite meaning, or it is blasphemy.
Sacred place, in the civil law, is that where a deceased person is buried.

“and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:15-17 NASB)


Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus) ©WikiC

The Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus) is a medium-sized woodland kingfisher that occurs in mangroves, woodlands, forests, and river valleys in Australia, New Zealand, and other parts of the western Pacific. In New Zealand the species is also known by its Māori name kōtare.

The sacred kingfisher is a medium-sized kingfisher. They are mostly turquoise, with white underparts and collar feathers. Both sexes are similar, but females are usually more dull-colored. Juveniles have rusty-brown edges on the collar and underparts.

It is called “sacred” for it was said to be a holy bird for Polynesians, who believed it to have control over the waves. Likewise, the local subspecies of collared kingfisher and other kingfishers in the southwestern Pacific were ascribed venerable power over the ocean.

Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus) by Ian


More Avian and Attributes

Birds whose first name starts with “S”

Sharing The Gospel

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[Definitions from Webster’s Dictionary of American English (1828), unless noted. Bird info from Wikipedia plus.]