I see a great blue heron by our pond seldom, perhaps once every week or two. I never know when I am going to see one., but I am excited when I do. A week ago today, I saw one very briefly zooming by outside our deck, flapping its massive wings. My son was visiting for Thanksgiving and I hurriedly got his attention. He looked quickly—but it was gone.
I saw another great blue heron this morning. This one lingered perhaps 15 minutes, often not moving at all for several minutes, sometimes just very slight movement you would miss if you turned away for a moment or blinked. Twice it turned its head sideways so I could see its impressive large and long beak. At one point it stretched its neck very high and thin—it seemed at least a foot—amazing to see such dexterity and flexibility. Twice it flew just a short distance, each time flapping its majestic wings. Then it stepped along the shore—slowly, carefully, deliberately—as if it was looking for something. Then it blended into the scenery and seemed to disappear into the shrubbery.
Several analogies to God came to my mind. The great blue heron is called great for a couple of reasons. It is probably the largest of the herons. It is also very majestic—in its look, its size, the massiveness of its wings. As great and majestic the great blue heron is, God is greater. Do we really realize that when we sing “How Great Is Our God”?
Sometimes God, like the heron, zooms on past us. We get just a fleeting glimpse–if we are quick enough to see Him at all. To see God, we have to be watching and waiting. We never know when we will see Him. But we are busy with our own activities.
Like the other heron that did not seem to move for a long period of time, often we don’t perceive God moving. We may think, “Why doesn’t God do anything?” In our frenetic and frantic society, we value action. God values stillness and quiet reflection. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
When God does move—even ever so slightly, almost imperceptibly—we may miss Him because we have not been watching and expecting. We want great and grand movements, and we want them now. We can’t wait around for God to move.
Sometimes God does move, but He stretches in ways that seem impossible to us. If we try to move with God, we feel s t r e t c h e d–out of sorts–beyond our capabilities and desires.
When God does finally take action that we can see, like the heron, God sometimes acts slowly, carefully, deliberately. Sometimes God just blends into the scenery and seems to disappear into the shrubbery. But He is still there, in the background at work in His own way and will and time.
How great is our God!—Even when we don’t see Him at work around us.