We should learn from the common examples that life sets before us. Jesus says that the sparrows and ravens would teach us about relying on God’s provision if only we would permit it. The eagle, Isaiah says, teaches us the renewing power of waiting on God. (Isaiah 40:31).
I do not see eagles much, but there is a gray heron that often visits The John Wesley University pond. The heron knows how to wait and how to fish. He seldom moves, and then only slowly and deliberately. How could anything prosper by being so still? Shouldn’t he diligently search the whole shoreline? Instead, he stands motionless. Then a fish swims by, the bill darts into the water, and we see that what looked like idleness was actually hopeful, intense expectancy.
We like to rely on our activity. It flatters our sense of control and the fantasy that we are “like unto God” as the serpent persuaded our first parents. Fretful activity and sloth are related in that pride is the root of both. Restless activity is pride when prospects are good. Sloth is pride when prospects are bad. Hopeful expectancy has little to do with either. Quiet waiting looks away from self to God for its fulfillment. It does not strain to turn prophecy into prognosis, but instead relies on hope in the Unseen.
The heron does not look like it should be able to fly. Its tall gangly body seems very far from aerodynamic but, when it is through fishing it mounts into the air with surprising grace — supported by the invisible.
My father knew how to wait and loved to fish. On July 27, 2000 he finished this life, and mounted up with surprising grace, supported by the Invisible. I hope I have learned what I was supposed to from the example.