Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Myers Park
So I sat on my favourite bench in Myers Park and tucked into my burger and chips.  Then I remembered why takeaways offer a bizarre eat-in option – seagulls.

There was just one, on the other side of the path, nonchalantly eyeballing me. You know the expression on his/her face - you've seen it on a million birds yourself while eating in the park: "Who, me?  No, I'm not interested in your cholesterol-filled chips thankyou very much, och no, certainly not.  I think I'll just edge a bit closer to you now for no reason in particular.  Ahh here I am on the path, a bit nearer to you, but still just far enough away to pretend that my real purpose in being here is to measure my feet and admire the gravel.  La la la, I am a seagull."

"What?!" I blurted out loud at it.  "Look at you - you live by faith, don't you?  You get up in the morning with nothing in the larder and go out and just have faith that God is going to provide you with insects and plants and stuff, don't you?  How do you do it?  Do you pray first?"

The seagull, who I shall call Paddington, was now looking straight at me, and beadily giving me a very hard stare.  A fairly important question occurred to me, so I asked it.

"Are you merely hoping for some food from me, or are specifically trying to illicit some?"

There was a subtle but important difference.  If the seagull was just hoping for food, it would indicate that it had faith in God to provide food today, without it having to do anything. It would have been just waiting to find out how.

On the other hand, if the seagull was trying to illicit some food from me, this would evidence the fall's effect on the animal kingdom. It would have been taking matters into its own hands. Wings even.

In response, the seagull silently opened and closed its beak at me, several times.

Me: "You are trying to illicit some food from me, aren't you?"

Ah well, no question then.  It had given up on God and was now fending for itself.  Or maybe it did still have faith, but like me was seeking God's direction.

I threw him a chip.  After his fascination with tarmac, his enthusiasm for a Burger King fry quickly revealed his true motives.  Well, you know what happened next.  A second gull joined him.  And, mug that I am, I threw him a chip too.

The third bird was bigger.  He also had a sales pitch, of cawing at me.  I chucked a third chip.  Someone walked past, and they all turned their backs and scuttled away a bit to ignore him, the same way people do around beggars.  The sideshow over, they all turned back to non-comittally pressurise me again, this time joined by a house sparrow. 

The big bird kept cawing.  It occured to me that its cawing was probably the reason why it was so much bigger than the other seagulls.  It had practiced this, and discovered that cawing got it more food from humans, hence it had eaten more, and become bigger.

I finished, held the bag up-side down in front of them, and eventually they drifted away, more through boredom than any understanding my cross-species gesture.

Then it started to rain.  Now I would have to study my daily Bible-notes indoors.  Heck no, why should I?  I may be choking back yet another cold, but there's a Biblical response to bad weather. Jesus – in the boat – during the storm – you remember. So, in Jesus' name, I told the rain to stop.

Miraculously, it got heavier, which irritated me as giving up and going in now would have been a lack of faith in my prayer.  So in the now increasingly heavier rain I got out my Bible and began reading, as always these days, out loud. 

The rain very quickly stopped, but an easterly wind struck up instead.  I told that to stop, and a westerly one replaced it.  I told that to stop, and after a few minutes engrossed in what I was reading, I noticed that all was now quite calm.  Calmer and more pleasant than I could have foreseen.

How did that work? I'm sorry, but narrative structure demands that I now compare my attitude to that of the seagulls'.

I could have waited to see if the rain would stop, or I could have opened and closed my beak in prayer and illicited such a response from it.

Would the rain and wind have stopped if I hadn't prayed?

Well, would the seagulls have eaten if they hadn't approached me, opened their beaks and cawed?

I do believe that God answers prayer, and I include speaking in His name within my definition of prayer. By 'speaking in His Name', I mean saying a prayer that I believe that Jesus would. In this way, I honestly believe that we can do anything in faith that Jesus could.

We can't really control the weather, anymore than a seagull can make me throw a fry towards it. In both cases it's God who does all the work – changing the weather, and providing the fries.

Yes, we both illicited these things, but it was God who actually performed the miracles, through the weather, through me, through my friend who bought me the fries, and through Burger King International. And through the guy who picked the potato. Oh yeah, and through that helped grow it.

God does far more powerful things than I could ever even ask for. I can't even get a seagull to stop cawing.

But if Jesus would have prayed for something, then we should always ask for it.

(GOOD NEWS) Luke 12:24 - Look at the crows: they don't sow seeds or gather a harvest; they don't have store-rooms or barns; God feeds them! You are worth so much more than crows!


2 comment(s):

At 4:47 am, Blogger KlownKrusty said...

And then the seagull gave you wings in return, right?

At 2:25 am, Blogger Steve Goble said...

No, but I was offered them at Burger King.


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