There is nothing like the chirp of a Robin to signal the coming of spring. Something stirs in us at the sight of geese in their familiar ‘>’ and we know that the seasons are changing. The miracle of migration is one of life’s great mysteries. The birds never lose their way. How are they guided? It is not so much by vision – as marvelous as a bird’s sight may be it cannot pierce the darkness nor find markers on the endless expanse of the sea. It is not to accounted for by being shown the way by older birds – many young birds follow exact migration routes without being led. We call this marvelous ability ‘instinct’. Those who deny the existence of God are forced to reduce it to a mere series of chemical reactions. It seems to me that position takes far more faith than to acknowledge the Creator. God has provided His creatures with a homing device; for some it is instinct, for humans it is the soul.
There are lessons to be learned from the animal kingdom. For example in Proverbs 6:8, we are advised, “Go to the ant, O sluggard, consider her ways and be wise.” Reflect with me on a few of these lessons:
- We share with animals a common creator. The early chapters of Genesis validate this point. Along with evidences of a common origin, there are also unique characteristics found among the various species. God created man in His own image. Man has an inner consciousness and intelligence that allows him to think about God. We can love Him, obey Him, defy Him, and even reject His offer of mercy and salvation. No other creature has that power. Yet, there is in us, as in the migratory animals mentioned above, an instinct to return to our place of origin.
- We often find ourselves a long way from home. Sin has alienated us from God. We are in a far country, a cold wasteland of the soul. We are far from the warm ‘Son’-shine of His love. But we can find comfort in knowing that even though sin has marred and distorted the image of God in us, it is still there – it has not been lost altogether. Like looking into a pool of water on a windy day, I can rest assured that my image is still there. Even if the ripples distort it, it’s there. His image may be blurred and obscured, but it is still in us. We may wander far from God, but we will not escape His Spirit (Psalm 139:9). We still sense a homeward pull.
- The Homing Instinct is never fully erased, even by the most grievous of sins. In Psalm 116:7, a pilgrim on his way back from captivity in Babylon sings, “Return unto rest, O my soul.” But there is no rest for the soul except in God. St. Augustine said, “We came forth from Him, and we are homesick until we return.” Legend tells that Jesus on his visit to Jerusalem at 12 years old was found discussing with the rabbis the question “Where shall rest be found?” One said, “In the abundance of the world.” Another said, “In the good opinion of our fellowman.” A third answered, “ In being content with present conditions. A fourth responded, “In enjoying the simple pleasures of life.” A fifth concluded, “In self-respect founded in virtue.” Jesus remarked, “None ever resteth until he findeth God.” Our souls are stirred to heavenward flight by the homing device God built within each of us.
- As with the animals, man may face fearsome, opposing forces when trying to get home. For the birds, strong winds, violent storms, a hail of gunfire, etc., makes the homeward journey difficult. With man, perhaps free will offers the most formidable obstacle. Nothing in the realm of nature is opposed to the law of its being, except man. Lower orders have instincts. These instincts are bondage to the laws of its being. In man, however, intelligence coupled with free will allows him to oppose the laws of his being. Head winds may offer hindrances to a flight of a returning bird, but by instinct they will soon rise above these to calmer air. With man the law of our being can be over-ridden by our own will. We can refuse to obey that call within us to go home to God.
A robin in a southern field says to itself, “March has come. The sun is shining. I must be off. The snow is melting from my nesting site a thousand miles to the north.” No sooner said than he is off on the wing, obeying his God given instinct. But the voice of God may come to a prodigal in a far country, and he shivers and hesitates and will not go. He refuses, as his free will allows, the call to come home.
In the far north a lonely mallard, in an ice-locked lake, was left behind, while his companions were preening their feathers by a warm southern stream. It strives to rise only to flutter back to the earth because of a broken wing. Is there someone reading this devotional who has tried again and again to rise and go to God only to fall back? Broken by sin and isolated from God, do you have a desire to go home, but seem unable to do so? In Luke 4:18, Jesus provides the answer: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.”
Jesus Is The Way Home
~ Brother Roy