Last week I was privileged to spend five days on the sailboat of a friend. Although the best parts of the trip to Catalina were laughter, conversation, and time spent with my husband, daughter, and three grandchildren, the beauty of God’s creation kept me in a state of awe and wonder. And gratitude. Several of God’s creatures gave me pause about how I can walk and spend time with God.

The first morning, before anyone else woke up, I slipped off the boat to walk on the dock. In the stillness of the morning, taking a casual stroll, was a great blue heron.Great Blue Heron

This majestic bird moved slowly and silently. Each step seemed carefully placed, and as it strutted between boats tied in the marina, it constantly turned its head, peering in every direction. No one would know it was there, unless they happened to see it. Like the heron, I need to take time to walk slowly and pay attention to my surroundings. In my time with God, I need to be aware of what He is showing me, what He wants me to learn, to see, to contemplate. How much time do I really take to walk silently with God, listening for His voice and seeing through His eyes?

Once the heron finished its walk, it gracefully took flight. I can only be ready to move on with my day if I first spend time with God. He must have input into my plans and thoughts before I am ready to move into the activities of any day.

Once we set sail, we passed the red buoy marking the harbor. This red buoy is always one of my favorite parts of sailing because sea lions use it as their private rest stop. Several sea lions lay soaking up the sun and relaxing. One sea lion floated on its back in the water, looking as though it waved to us as we passed by. When his dip in the water was over, the sea lion jumped back onto the buoy, and its friends wiggled around to make room, barking the entire time.

Sea lions on buoy

Unlike the heron, who I only see alone, the sea lions form a community. They hang out together and enjoy resting and relaxing together. Just like the sea lions, God created me for community. I need to welcome others into my world. From my closest friends and my husband, I glean wisdom and advice when I have questions or concerns. Laughter and enjoyment of God’s people is an important part of the abundant life He wants for me.

When we reached our destination, we headed for the beach. I went swimming with my granddaughters, who saw a Garibaldi–the California state fish–and eagerly took me to see it. It surprised me that the little fish, hovering close the shallow bottom, didn’t swim away when we approached. Doing some research later, I discovered Garibaldi are territorial and stand their ground.

Garibaldi

 

I must be like the Garibaldi: steady, standing firm in my belief no matter what is going on around me. God stands for me; He is unchanging and strong. Keeping these truths ever in my heart and mind should bring peace and joy to my soul. I live, even here on earth, in His Kingdom. I am protected by God.

Anytime I’m near the ocean, of course, seagulls abound. There is nothing quiet about a seagull. They seem to make constant noise, clamoring for attention and shamelessly begging for food. They hover around any boat that is fishing, boldly steal snacks from people’s picnics, and never give up.

 

Seagulls

In Finding Nemo seagulls say, “Mine! Mine! Mine!” And that seems a perfect description of their attitude and character. While they may be beautiful to watch soaring across the sky, their true nature is greedy and selfish. I must guard against being like the seagulls. Instead of looking for what I can get and how I can get it, I must keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. He promises to provide all I need (Matthew 25-34). In fact, rather than looking for what I can gain, I need to look to the needs of others (Philippians 2:3-5).

The best way to achieve these goals starts with what I learned from the heron. Begin each day quietly with God. Put Him first. Listen to His voice.

Then as I go about my day, call on Him to see things from His perspective and act in the way that glorifies Him.

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