On a recent family trip to the beach, we got off the interstate and stopped at a service station to get gas and grab a quick lunch at the fast food restaurant next door. While I sat in the car waiting for my husband to finish refueling, I noticed four beautiful seagulls slowly circling the parking lot. Around and around they went, maintaining altitude and keeping their gaze on the environment below – which included a large blue dumpster in between the service station and the fast food restaurant.
I was amazed, even a bit appalled! What were these seagulls doing here? We were fifty miles from the beach! Why were they here rummaging and scavenging above the hot, black asphalt of a dirty city parking lot?
What of the open water? The fresh breeze? The other sea creatures hunting in their natural environment?
But then, as I saw the largest seagull land on the dumpster’s edge and peer curiously inside, I realized they were looking for food!
What did they want with a dumpster full of cardboard, trash, and discarded fast food wrappings – A cold french-fry? A scrap of pizza crust? Perhaps the remnants of a stale hamburger bun?
Why were they content to live off trash, when the shore was full of delicious treasures?
What of the fresh clams? The tasty oysters? The delicious tiny fish? Surely they knew their true nutritional needs could be better met in the habitat that God created for them to live in, didn’t they?
Watching those seagulls from the seat of my car made me wonder how many times I am like those birds – circling “trashcans” for my sustenance, when I was meant for things far more nourishing than the offerings of this world.
What do I turn to when I am lonely? What satisfies me when I am tired? Where does my thinking go when I am physically spent or spiritually tired?
Do I circle above the world’s temptations and then half-heartedly settle for quick mediocre satisfaction? Am I fulfilled by my own lazy inclinations or gratified to slip into my familiar human addictions?
Or am I truly willing to take the energy to travel back to the foundations of my faith? Am I willing to silence myself enough to read God’s Word, thoughtfully spend time in prayer, and quietly listening to His voice?
In time, our family left the gas station, continued our journey, and finally arrived at the beach. Walking along the shore, I was thrilled to see many beautiful seagulls diving and swooping in their search for food – doing what comes naturally and instinctively, just as their Creator fashioned them to do.
May these beautiful birds remind each of us to endeavor to meet God where He can not only quench our basic needs but satisfy our most deepest longings.