Camping in the wilderness of Idaho can be exhilarating.
The trout and kokanee salmon is plentiful in the mountain lakes and streams. The whitewater is thunderous for those who desire to conquer with their rafts and kayaks. And the numerous wildlife will peak its head out for those who are watchful and patient.
Our family recently came back from another six day excursion where we staked our claim along an alpine reservoir appropriately named Deadwood for those who reside out West. We soaked in evenings of countless stars, family conversations around the fire and even a distant howling of a pack of wolves hunting beyond the next range. Ah, the wilderness. The sights. The sounds. The smells.
Perhaps nothing is more majestic in the wilderness than the birds of prey that nest on tree tops and hover over the misty lakes and waters during the awakening dawn. Many varieties of eagles, hawks and falcons make their home throughout the mountains and canyons of Idaho. One of my favorites is the osprey. Also known as the sea hawk or the fish eagle, a camper can count on observing an osprey hovering over a river or lake looking for its next meal. The osprey is unmistakable due to its white marks on its head and underneath its wings. Another unmistakable feature of the osprey is its call.
For those who have heard a bald eagle and other birds of prey, the call of the raptor sounds fierce and powerful. When observing the majestic flight of the osprey, a person would expect to hear the same kind of call of the wild. Waiting expectantly on the shoreline, with two osprey floating above, I finally heard its cry.
“Chirp, chirp?” I thought to myself. “What kind of call is that! Is that the best you can do?”
For a magnificent a bird of prey, I was expecting a call that would awaken the embers of my masculine soul to divide and conquer.
Instead, I heard a cry that was strikingly similar to a smoke alarm in my house chirping for a new battery.
Looks can be deceiving. Expecting certain responses can be disappointing.
In matters of witnessing Christ to others, the cry of the osprey gave me another important lesson.
When presented with opportunities to witness Christ, looks can be deceiving. We tend to automatically assume that people aren’t interested. We think they are already too entrenched in their own religious culture or teachings. Or, they just don’t have the time. Of course, all of these scenarios can certainly be true and are even common rebuttals. But how often do we steer clear of people, assuming these responses without giving them the opportunity to do so. Saying nothing is a far safer approach.
The call of the osprey served as another reminder for me that we can’t place expectations in people’s responses that hinder us from saying anything. No matter how majestic a person may seem in their lack of interest in hearing about Christ, you will be surprised at the number of people who do have an interest. Who will listen to what you have to say. Who may be experiencing doubt in what they believe. Whose soil may be receptive to receiving a seed of truth to be planted in their hearts and minds. And when that time happens, when that seed sprouts to faith in Christ, we are blessed with the opportunities to witness the miracle of faith displayed at the baptismal font. And it all starts with the seed of God’s Word.
Witnessing Christ is more about seed-sowing than harvest-reaping. We are only called upon to deliver the message, not to convert – for that is only in the power of the Holy Spirit. With this in mind, we can’t be discouraged or dissuaded when we don’t see the harvest or immediate results of sowing seeds. And we rejoice when we hear the amazing and miraculous news that another soul has received citizenship into heaven.
The osprey is a beautiful animal to see – an amazing example of God’s unique and vast creation. And so is a soul that is lost in false teaching. Let’s not be discouraged by the unsuspecting chirps which can follow the planting of a seed of faith, nor fear the disappointment of being rejected. But be lifted up, like the wings of an eagle, to soar to heights that bring confidence and courage that God is with us in everything we do and say.