Friday, June 5, 2009

The Animals Speak!

This is my week for animal tales - good, bad, mysterious and ugly.  Some wonderous, some sadly strange and some miraculous and some tragically sad.  That got me thinking about animals in the Bible - and how they have spoken on behalf of the Hand that also created them.  Animals speak to me all the time.  Now before you get worried, I don't actually hear them talking like people - they use their bodies and actions.

From the wild birds in my yard to the coyote in the field to my cows, horses, cats and dogs.  Animals I see when traveling have tales to tell, and some warnings to give. They remind me daily, sometimes moment by moment to be thankful for the blessings of this world we can see and sense around us.

My birds tell me about weather, predators and changes in our neighborhood.  I know when the weather isn't going to be good, I can tell when a bad storm is coming and it is often their warning alone that tells me to watch out.  Some animals are bolder than others, like the hummingbirds who harass me when their feeders are empty but flock under the eaves when a heavy rain is coming with strong winds.  The raven who plays with the dogs and steals their food, but is quick to fly high in the sky when the bears are out in the pasture behind us.  When you see one deer while driving, slow down because there are others close by.

Our dogs tell us what is going on, even miles down the road.  My cows and horses tell me things from when one of their members are not with them to their food or water is not as it should be.  They even tell me when someone is in their pasture that shouldn't be.

The Bible tells us that animals also spoke on behalf of their Creator in those times as well.  The famous snake tempting in the Garden maligned snakes until the Staff of Life redemed them later in the desert.  We still revere that staff of healing, and see it so often we barely think of what it's origins where.  Baalam's ass famously spoke to him about the Angel blocking his way after refusing even in the face of abuse to disobey God's own Angel, the obedient Whale redirected an errant prophet Jonah, Noah and his faithful animals upon the ark managed to survive until the dove found dry land and delivered the branch, after the raven tried and failed. 

 Jesus rode on a trusting young donkey who had never been ridden before, and the legend of the donkey's markings show the faithfulness that they share with their owners.  Heaven will have the wolves laying down with the lambs, although for many lions and lambs seem more noble (could it be because of the lions having their mouths shut to save Daniel in the infamous lion's den?) but there you have it in Isaiah.    I prefer the wolves, but that could be a slight bias on my part personally.

Many, many other animals did the work and bidding of the Creator in the Bible and we should pay attention to the message, as well as the messenger.  The animals show us their faith, and God reminds us that not even a sparrow falls that He isn't knowing of it (Matthew 10:29).  

God created everything in the world, there is no question of that for me, this is a created place.  We were created to care for this place, this world and it's inhabitants.  No question for me, there is a responsibility to care for our world and the creatures of it as they are all from the same hand which breathed life into it all.  Shouldn't we be as respectful of our fellow inhabitants?  Shouldn't we care for them as much as God does, and with the same loving care He shows us?  

The wonder of our natural world should serve as a reminder of the greatness of a Creator's Hand, it does for me. From the miracle of a kitten found and saved, to the wonderful blessing of a running healthy calf to trying to understand how one of the predators in this world would need one of my calves to feed their young.  How the circle of life goes around and around and around again.  

Aborignal elders tell us that the world was created before Man, and the land and the animals helped us survive when we were, as humans, very young and unknowing in the world.  We have impacted the world, and if we lost the plants and the water and the animals we would die.  If the world lost us, people, it would carry on.  See where we fit into the balance?  We are not great hunters (no sharp teeth or claws, no strong hide or limbs, no hair or fur, not excellent hearing or smell) and we are definately somewhat less a choice prey (dirty, smelly, violent and more often we prey on our own kind in a most dramatic way) but easy prey if the choice is there.

When I see an Eagle I am reminded of the promise of Isaiah 40:31) that we will not tire in our labours for the Lord.  When I see my horses running I think of power, freedom and also that horses serve as the steeds for the Four Horsemen Revalation 6:1-2.  There is power in listening to animals, and there is understanding in seeing their place in our Created world. There is solace and faith affirmation in the beauty of our world.  Remember Jesus is the Lamb of God, who better than He to remind us of the beauty of the Holy Spirit and the Creating hand of God?