Ask for the Ancient Paths

Call them migratory flyways. There are four in North America: Atlantic, Mississippi, Central and Pacific. These distinct flight paths for migratory birds are set by biologists. They were formally set in 1948 by biologists who worked with migratory waterfowl. Even earlier, the Migratory Bird Treaty of 1918, established treaties with Canada and Mexico for the protection of birds that make all three countries their habitat during parts of a year.

Yet, the human recognition of established flight paths for migrating birds is new. The flyways are ancient.DSC_0056ed

Today, a gusty northwest wind has caused the release of thousands of leaves from nearby ash trees. For every leaf it is the first and final trip to earth. These leaves have come to the place where they perform their second function: to renew the earth as they decay. The annual color change and flutter to earth of millions of deciduous tree leaves is an ancient event.DSC_0079ed

Yet, seasonal change and bird migration are relatively new.

So is the annual storage of food by squirrels. The seasonal ritual of burying walnuts in the earth by the squirrels has been underway for many days already. Squirrels have responded to the soon to come cold of winter by caching food in the ground for centuries, even millennia. Forests have grown from this rodent behavior.

But squirrels, leaves and birds are not the ancient.

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The way of Creator God is truly ancient. But not ancient in a negative, or being ‘out of date’ or antiquated way. God’s ways are both ageless and contemporary. Have you gazed at a fall forest hillside ablaze in color? Have you witnessed the wonderful mystery of a migratory flock of birds overhead? Has your breath ever been taken by the majesty of the thousands of stars in the night sky? Could the ancient ways of One who daily creates such majesty be out of date?

Ancient is a human term. It signifies the passage of a great deal of time. God has no clock. God has no day. God has no calendar. God is not ancient. God is now. God is active. God is all-knowing. We cannot comprehend the majesty that is God’s alone. But, we can trust Him.

When the subject of God comes before us we have two choices. Trust Him and follow His path or refuse and take our own path. It is incredible to think that we humans would ever say to God, “I’ll go my way, not yours.” But we do. We turn from the One who made migration paths, seasons, and the instinct to cache food, and go our way. Almighty God will not force us to walk with Him.

God’s prophet, Jeremiah wrote these invitational words from God. Our two choices are included. He wrote, thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ (Jeremiah 6:16)

The choice seems clear. Ask for the ancient paths. The good way is in them. God has promised rest for our souls.

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Inhabitants

 
There it was, and not alone. My thought was, “this is a pair.”
Usually subjects with feathers disappear before this photographer is prepared. And, one of the two did fly away. But, one cautiously allowed photos.
 
Red-breasted nuthatches go with trees. Coniferous or deciduous trees make suitable habitat for these insect eaters. Just a bit longer than 4 inches weighing about the same as 8 jumbo paper clips, the Red breasted Nuthatch can effortlessly conceal itself. With equal ease it moves up and down the trees where it lives searching for its next portion of insect protein.
 
We know woodpecker beaks expertly excavate nest cavities. Red-breasted nuthatch beaks are capable of mining a nuthatch size nest cavity. Since both the male and female work as a team the task is done with the power of two. Red-breasted nuthatches choose a decayed tree limb, sometimes a rotting stump and often the soft wood of the Aspen tree.DSC_0027ed
 
An unusual nesting behavior has been given to the Red-breasted Nuthatch. Both male and female line the nest entrance and the upper interior part of the nest with pine resin. This creates an effective predator guard for the female as she incubates and the young after hatching. How did they acquire this protective behavior?
 
Hidden inside nest cavities skillfully constructed, instinctively concealed, and protected by a specialized security system, even experts know little about the development of young Red-breasted Nuthatches.
 
We do know this: Red-breasted Nuthatches are here because God placed them on the earth to ‘inhabit” His created blue planet. From the Bible, in the book of Isaiah we read of God’s plan and His sovereign power: “For this is what the Lord says—he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited—he says: “I am the Lord, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:18)
 
We may explain the presence of the Red-breasted Nuthatch as a member of a food web. But, Isaiah gives us a reason we may overlook. These beautiful little birds are here because God put them on earth to be one of its inhabitants. They fit in a food web which God created. The Red-breasted Nuthatch reminds us God is the all-knowing, infinite, powerful Creator.
 
Know too God is perfect in love. In the same chapter God speaks these words: “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:22) God’s love is for you, it’s His eternal life plan, that we may be inhabitants of heaven.
 
It begins with Jesus.

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6 Questions

Let’s begin with some facts. You think facts are boring? You should have seen these. For two weeks the swallows have been flying-south. Red-tailed Hawks are visible-many places. Green Darner Dragonflies are photographed-and put on social media. American Pelicans have formed flocks. These flocks are flying-south. Northern Flicker Woodpeckers with the tell-tail white tail patch-are present-in migratory flocks.  If you watch carefully there are still Monarchs flying- south. Now the last-does not move. Ash tree leaves first yellow-then fall to earth.

Now 6 questions for you-but relax- two are repeated

 

Do you not know?

Have you not heard?

Has it not been told you from the beginning?

Have you not understood since the earth was founded? (Isaiah 40:21)DSC_0014ed

 

Do you not know?

Have you not heard?

 

The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. (Isaiah 40:28)

 

Have you been watching? God is speaking. He is revealing His power and holy God character. Before our eyes God is creating fall.DSC_0017ed

The Superior Life Plan

 
 
The end is near. This is not a doomsday message from a want to be prophet. The end is near, it is a fact.
 
Blooming flowers will cease first. Freezing temperatures may hasten the end of blossoms. The work of pollinators for the season is near its conclusion for this season.DSC_0010ed
 
There is a cold reality coming. Many humans accept it with regret. Winter is nearing. Before full winter sets in the bumble bee in the photo will be dead. It sounds dreadful, but it is a nature fact.
The workers of a bumble bee colony will all be compost or food for others long before winter arrives in the north country. But there is a plan for the colony this bumble bee comes from. The bumble bee in this photo is likely feeding the final colony of bumble bees of this summer season. DSC_0001ed
 
This last colony is special. Unlike summer bumble bee colonies, it contains a number of queen bumble bees. Before freezing temperatures end flowers and nectar flower each queen from the colony will mate and find a safe winter nest just her size. There she will hibernate till spring. The eggs within her body will become the first bumble bee colony of next spring.
 
Native bees also overwinter in a birth cell as a pupa or immature adult bee. They will complete development in the warm first flower weather of next spring.
 
Honey bees are different. They overwinter in their nest around the queen. They are not dormant, but greatly reduce their activity. They use honey stored in the hive for winter food and “shiver” to keep the hive and themselves warm.
There is unconventional beyond this world wisdom evident in the lives of these pollinators. There is a winter provision. There is a superior life plan. The life cycle of bumble bee and honey bees is perpetuated throughout winter.
 
Take a long look at these photos. Look at the bumble bee, the honey bee (I think it is.) God has provided for these creatures who provide us food with their pollinating work. Flowers for them in spring, summer and fall and a winter protection plan when cold arrives.
 
Call it mercy, call it love. Yes, God loves His creation. That includes us.
 
Are you suffering? Is there heart ache, human trouble which seems an insurmountable mountain? God provides. He loves His creation, all of it. Tell Him of your trials, your worries, your fears.
Read His promise to us: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23
 
He provides for the bees. He will provide for you, in ways you cannot imagine. Talk with Him, He is always loving you, always listening for your voice. His plan is superior.

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Who to Trust

Purple asters are in bloom. Wait, it is a bigger event than you think. Purple in petals is beauty compounded. Purple framed in green is eye pleasure worth seeking.DSC_0014ed

It gets bigger.

The purple aster blooms from late August to late September in ideal conditions.  In a prairie or a road ditch Purple Aster, Stiff Golden rod and the miniature white blossoms of Heath Aster create a spectacular blend of complimentary contrasting colors.

A recent walk to view this early fall beauty was rewarding. My eyes were treated to the delicate purple of Smooth Blue Aster blossoms.  All three colors, goldenrod yellow, and aster purple and white were visible. Enjoying the autumn color of Smooth Purple Aster is a pleasurable seasonal event. These are fall color in miniature.

The arrival of autumn purple is predictable. So is Heath Aster white and goldenrod yellow. Toss in the brilliant red of Sumac and the range of color approaches a rainbow.

Fall colors are beautiful. The brilliant colors please our eyes. It happens every fall in North America. Hundreds of thousands of people trek to see the fall colors. They seek the mega colors draping entire mountain sides, entire hillsides in mile after mile of color.

Think about the much bigger truth. Have you thought of about it? There is freedom in knowing it.

Explain fall color as phenology, the seasonal or cyclical occurrence of natural events. Have you thought about the remarkable fact that these fall colors are seasonally predictable? Fall color change is regular. We know it will come within days of the previous year. No human will can alter this predictable change. Fall colors come on a timetable we cannot alter or impact.

What is the bigger truth? Fall color change reveals where the power is. God has it. While we greatly enjoy the purple, brilliant yellows, contrasting white, and deep Sumac reds; we cannot command them to appear on a whim. Look behind the curtain of fall, see its Director.

This truth about God’s power. Seasonal color change contains a profound life truth. No human wisdom, intuition, or strategy can overcome God’s. When we forget God has the power, the result is frustration at best, and heartache in the extreme.

When we forget God has all the power wisdom and authority we lose an opportunity. Letting HIM lead. In the Bible we read these words, “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.” (Proverbs 21:30)

How short-sighted we are. Should we struggle to trust in our imperfect wisdom, or put our trust in almighty, all-knowing, everywhere present God?

Our Forefathers had it written on our money: In God We Trust.

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Keeping the Covenant

 

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The time of covenant keeping has come.

 
A covenant is a significant promise.
 
The bird in the photo is a juvenile. It was hatched nearby this summer. About three days ago its parents left on their migratory journey south. This bird has a sibling. They come to the feeders together.
 
These miniature birds are no more than 3.5 inches long head to tail. To maintain their light weight and because they are so small, Hummingbirds have the fewest feathers of all birds. There are between 1,000 and 1,500 feathers on the birds in the photos.
They have a long migratory journey ahead. From the location of the hummingbird feeder in the photos to southern Mexico and Central America lies a 2,000-mile journey. These two miniscule birds have never been there. Their parents left days earlier.
 
How will they find their way? Science explains bird navigation in terms of magnetic sensing or star navigation as bird do migrate at night. Yet neither fully explains how these two beauties will find their way south.
 
Covenant explains their spectacular journey best.
 
If they migrate by magnetic sensing or stars God put these abilities in the minds of these less than one-ounce birds. If birds had human character traits it would seem they would be frantic at their parents leaving them. Yet, they continue to feed and bless my heart with their company. God will keep His significant promise; these two birds will know when to leave and which way to fly…at God’s direction.
 
This is not irrational thinking. Where did the internal navigation compass of birds come from?
 
Do you believe God only keeps a covenant with birds?
 
David, the shepherd king of the Bible wrote these words about God who always keeps His promises. “He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations.” Psalm 105:8
 
Keeping His covenant with two small hummingbirds is wonderful. What is His greatest promise? Sending Jesus to be the Savior of the world.
 
Only God keeps His promises. Forever. To you. To me.
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No Place to Hide

We humans think we can hide. We hide in many ways. We buy camouflage. Disguises may work for a time, even a mask. We suppress things we’ve done. We shield the truth fearing it will hurt too much. We swindle our hearts believing we can “hole up” where no one can find us.

Sometimes being in a wild place reminds me of my tendency to want to hide. Perhaps this explains my desire to have a cabin in the center of a large forest. My unspoken desire is to hide.

That’s not bad you say. It is when my motivation is to hide myself from God. And I don’t need a thousand-acre forest to do that.

What is the reason we humans want to hide from God? Sin-you know lies, stealing, taking God’s name in vain, sexual sin, idolatry, coveting our neighbor’s stuff, those things. We hide our sin from each other if we can.

A thousand-acre forest is not big enough to hide from God. No forest, no mask, shield, camouflage, or “holing up” some place can hide us from God. Jeremiah tells us this plainly, “Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” says the Lord. (Jeremiah 23:24)

Wait. Why hide from God? Yes, God hates sin. Don’t hide. Tell God.

Tell Him every messed-up detail. We can tell Him all the awful stuff we want to hide. Do you know why? He knows it all anyway. He is everywhere we try to hide, and He waits there for us to tell Him. He loves us. When we confess our sin to Him, He is faithful. He forgives us… Of every sin we seek to hide. Every time, always.

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You can go to the forest to praise Him, not hide.