The Heron and the Gull

Written By: Chris Mace

Great Blue Heron and Gull, Sullivan, Maine

Although these two creatures are members of the same taxonomic family, they are quite different. Seemingly respectful of personal boundaries, they are hanging out but with no visible interaction with each other. The heron is intent on fishing for dinner, but the curious gull is paddling around the heron without disturbing it. One wonders if the gull admires or envy’s its odd looking, distant relative?

John Maxwell posed an interesting statement with an equally interesting answer: “What happens when you compare yourself to others? Usually it’s one of two things: either you perceive the other person to be far ahead of you and you feel discouraged, or you perceive yourself to be better than the other person, and you become proud Neither of those is good for you, and neither will help you to grow.”

We do have genetic road maps that influence our personality, physical traits and abilities, intellectual capacity, susceptibility to disease, and longevity. Genes make us different and limited individuals with merits and weaknesses. We are also emotional, relational beings who are influenced by encouragements, opinions, and criticisms from those who may or may not have our best interests in mind. Words are powerful, and we often allow ourselves to be buoyed or victimized and defined by the judgment of others. We may be like the character in All Creatures Great and Small who said he had spent half of his life trying to please others and the other half worrying about whether he had! We are born with realities, but we assume a “reality” of self worth from our interactions and experiences.

Even though cultures and societies or individuals may ascribe value to certain abilities or attributes, God does not. Although many elect not to believe in God, we should remember that we all make inferences from evidences and may arrive at different conclusions about origins and the existence of God. Assuming from the evidences that God exists, there is a reality which is larger than us and which has nothing to do with human opinions and assessments.

As Creator, “The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made” (Psalm 145:9) He views humanity without bias for appearance, capabilities, origins, social status, race, gender or morality! Judeo-Christian belief holds that God is not only Creator and evident in creation but that He is also present with us. He not only exists and upholds the universe with physical laws but also with spiritual laws! If we disobey the law of gravity by attempting to fly off a cliff without assistive devices we will meet disaster. If we fail to recognize who we are meant to be as spiritual beings, we risk the ultimate disaster of missing God’s redemptive blessings.

Scripture directs us to the reality of who we are as creatures endowed by our Creator with the ability to shine with His character. However, our fallen, willful natures make choices that tarnish that image leaving our unrighteous, imperfect souls alienated from God and our bodies dying. Only God could overcome those obstacles and change that reality by forgiveness and redemption and restoration. That is why Christ in his incarnation and perfection paid the ultimate price for our sins, to cover us in his righteousness, to defeat death, and to give promise of eternal life by rising in a glorious resurrection.

If we see our fallen world through the eyes of God, we will find a lover’s heart, a savior’s enduring and merciful loyalty, and a hero’s sacrifice for us. God’s love is so immense it encompasses all people, even His enemies. Christ died “once for all.” He desires our ultimate good and that all would know Him and to enjoy His blessings. Although God’s grace is evident in every good thing we enjoy in life whether or not we recognize it as such, He desires to rescue us from ourselves and our fears and has done everything possible to save us. It becomes our choice to believe or not.

Lavishly loved and valued, we can rest confidently in the fact that God loves us just the way we are. We cannot make Him love us more than He does. We don’t need to be threatened or discouraged or defeated by destructive opinions or misguided judgments. It is not necessary nor good to seek self justification from the misfortune and defeats of others or to be jealous of superior performances and successes of others.

We can be free and satisfied to be who we are created to be whether a heron or a gull!


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