SHADES OF SNOWIES !
Dr. James J. S. Johnson
Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season… (Hebrews 11:25)
Sometimes it seems like “a little pleasure” could be enjoyed, for a little while, somewhere else. As the happy little fish swam, toward a shady spot in the pond-waters near shore, that was his last voluntary thought! (But why?)
Snowy Egrets are famous for their “golden slippers”, i.e., their black legs contrast with the gold-yellow color of their feet. Nicknamed “Snowies”, these small-sized egrets have all-white plumage that is extra bright, like soft new-fallen snow, hence the name “Snowy Egret“.
But, to some hapless fish, another trait of the Snowy might be more important – the behavioral trait of “shading” that Snowy Egrets are known for, in order to entice shallow-water fish into their bill’s striking zone. Consider the following descriptive report, by ornithologists Wayne Petersen and Roger Burrows:
“The elegant, snow white plumage, black legs and bright yellow feet of the Snowy Egret are … mainly wanderers to inland areas, although they breed along the coast …
Herons and egrets, particularly Snowy Egrets, make use of a variety of feeding techniques. By shuffling their bright-yellow feet in the much of shallow wetlands, these birds attempt to spook potential prey out of hiding. In an even more creative hunting strategy, they are known to create shade by extending their wings over open water. When a fish succumbs to the lure of the cooler shaded spot, it is promptly seized and eaten.” [Quoting Wayne R. Petersen & Roger Burrows, BIRDS OF NEW ENGLAND (Lone Pine Publishing, 2004), page 94.]
That poor hapless fish, who only sought some comfortable shade (i.e., just a little “pleasure” for a “season”), in the shallow water of a pond – snatched by the Snowy’s bill, in an eye-blink ! — in other words, before the swamp-critter ever knew what hit him, he was strzok!
Of course, it might also be the case that “shading” shallow water makes it easier for a Snowy to survey its near-surface prey, in order for the Snowy to know where to aim its bill thrust.
The lesson here is a lesson we can trace to the Old Testament book of Jonah, namely, if you are inclined to wander from your properly assigned place of service, as Jonah was, don’t be too surprised if there’s a “ship” waiting for you, to take you away from where you should be (Jonah 1:3).
As poet Gertrude Grace Sanborn once wrote, “there is always a ship at Joppa” – waiting to take to farther into a big mess of trouble!
REMAIN IN YOUR PLACE
If you’re discontented and unhappy And your place and purpose grows dim,
There is always a ship at Joppa If you don’t want to stay and win.
If you turn from the task of the present To follow a beckoning star;
There is always a ship at Joppa To take you from where you are.
But you’ll miss the blessing He gives you If you wander away from His place;
For there’s a fare to be paid at Joppa If you do not remain in your place.
[Quoting Gertrude Grace Sanborn, “Remain in Your Place”, WITH TEARS IN MY HEART: POETIC MEDITATIONS OF A CHRISTIAN WOMAN (Bible for Today product # 3196), posted at https://www.biblefortoday.org/Articles/tears.htm .]
So, if you are tempted to stray from the Lord’s present assignment for your life, and you find yourself allured toward a substitute “opportunity”, and then you see a convenient ship docked “at Joppa” (just waiting to take your fare, so that you can thereby “escape” God’s will for your life) — don’t naïvely interpret that the Joppa ship’s availability is “confirming” that this is your “lucky day” (to escape your proper assignment)!
In other words, beware! What looks comfortable, convenient, and pleasurable may not be so good as it appears to the eye (or to the imagination)!
Now the parable is this: The seed is the Word of God. Those by the wayside are they who hear; then comes the devil, and takes away the Word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that [seed] which fell among thorns are they who, when they have heard, go forth and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and they bring no fruit to perfection. But that [seed] on the good ground are they who, in an honest and good heart, having heard the Word, keep it and bring forth fruit with patience. (Luke 8:11-15)