Editor’s note: the following post is contained in this month’s edition of our highly popular resource, the CPYU Monthly Parent Page. To learn more and subscribe, click here.
Up until last month, I had never heard of a bird called the Bar-Tailed Godwit. But when I heard ornithologist Scott Weidensaul describe the “normal” life of this migratory shorebird, I couldn’t stop thinking about them. They are not only awe-inspiring, but they are also great teachers of spiritual truth.
Weighing a mere 10 ounces, the Bar-Tailed Godwit is a truly amazing bird. Even though they nest in Western Alaska, they engage in an annual migration cycle that has them flying. . . fasten your seat-belt . . . over 18,000 miles a year! Multiply that by the 25 to 30 years of their normal life-span, and you, like me, will be left scratching your head. . . especially when you realize that the total distance is more than to the moon and back. Here’s what’s even more astounding: one leg of their migratory journey, from Alaska to New Zealand, requires them to fly non-stop for eight to nine days over 7200 miles of the Pacific Ocean! There’s no eating, drinking, landing, or stopping. It’s truly non-stop! And during the marathon journey, their bodies function at the same metabolic rate as a human running endless 4-minute miles.
So how do they do it?
It seems that God has created these birds with some amazing patterns, habits, and mechanisms that allow them to go on this journey from start to finish, all the while navigating the extreme stress and conditions that lie in-between. The secret is their preparation before they take to the air. A few weeks before the migration begins, the Bar-Tailed Godwit starts feeding manically on worms and other invertebrates. They more than double their weight over the course of two weeks to the point where they jiggle when they walk. Their digestive organs – which they won’t need to use during their 7200 mile journey – shrink and atrophy. At the same time, their hearts, lungs, and muscles they use for flapping double in size and capacity. Finally, there’s another fact that should leave you shouting “Glory to God!” Scientists have discovered that they have no problem with sleep deprivation. They engage in “unihemispheric sleep” as the brain’s hemispheres alternate back-and-forth for one or two seconds at a time, each one taking thousands of short micro-naps while the other side is awake. Are you kidding me?!?
As I pondered the life of the Bar-Tailed Godwit, just one of the 9,000 species of birds God made, I couldn’t help but think about Jesus and His words in the Sermon on the Mount: “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:27). While Jesus was talking to his hearers about God’s faithful physical provisions for life, we can’t help but think about the spiritual feast that He lays out for us in His written Word, The Bible.
Most parents share a concern for balanced nutrition as it fosters healthy physical growth and development in their kids. I’ve come to realize that we need to be even more concerned about feeding the hearts, minds, and souls of our children and teens with the truths of God’s Word. You see, the older we get the more we can identify with the difficult portions of our life journey that would and could do us in if we haven’t taken the time to consistently feed manically on God’s Word as preparation that will serve us well before we “take to the air.”
In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul wrote these words: “For whatever was written in the former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). Over-feeding and storing up God’s Word is necessary for both ourselves and our kids. The reality is, God has given us His Word as a great gift to feast upon. And, none of us can ever eat too much! And, none of us can ever put too much spiritual food on the table for our kids.
Editor’s note: this post is contained in this month’s edition of our highly popular resource, the CPYU Monthly Parent Page. To learn more and subscribe, click here.