By Farley Lord
I imagine Jesus would be one of those nature hike leaders who arrives at the trailhead before everyone else to thoughtfully consider the tree canopy. He would wear brandless, mud-colored boots and clothes that were not at all trendy, least of all his pants tucked into his socks to deter creepy crawlies. He would hike only with a knobby stick and a small bag of trail mix (for surely even Jesus loves trail mix). He would know everything about everything and it would seem he was created by the woods themselves. Or wouldn’t I know that it was the other way around?
I would most like to follow Jesus birdwatching. You know the old joke that there’s a reason fishing is called “fishing,” not “catching”? Similarly birdwatching (as in, watching for birds) is not the same as birdseeing. Birdwatching is an interspecies game of hide-and-seek where the hiding species is almost weightless, usually camouflaged, and can fly; the finding species is giant by comparison and wears clodhoppers and swishy hiking pants. What luck, then, that according to the letter to the Hebrews, “before Jesus no creature is hidden.” (4:13) No creature is hidden! All I would have to do is wrangle my binoculars in the direction he tells me, and I would check off every bird species on my list before lunch.
"I imagine Jesus would be one of those nature hike leaders who arrives at the trailhead before everyone else to thoughtfully consider the tree canopy."
My greed for birdwatching glory would wear off as I realized that how Jesus sees is just as important as what he sees. Jesus wouldn’t be like a supersensory zombie who sends the poor birds scattering, forming unlikely alliances, and providing the plot of the next hit tv series. No: he wouldn’t reveal creatures to capture, embarrass, startle, trick, or profit from them. What is hidden is more than their location; it is their truth, and Jesus can see the truth of every creature. Jesus sees them despite their fear, their fatigue, the density of the underbrush, or the rugged terrain. Jesus sees them through love, and he wouldn’t get any closer than he needs to love them. His goal is communion, not domination.
At some point Jesus would see something in the distance and become quiet, his face soft and sad. Following his gaze, I would see no bird, just wind in the leaves. Perhaps the bird that’s caught his attention is hidden from mortal eyes because it is missing and shouldn’t be. Is it a Carolina parakeet, a passenger pigeon, or ivory-billed woodpecker? He doesn’t say, but sighs and keeps walking. Before Jesus, no creature is hidden, even those who have faced death and extinction from the tangible world.
"Before Jesus, no creature is hidden, even those who have faced death and extinction from the tangible world."
As I got in my car after the hike, I would realize one more thing. The way that Jesus sees birds, his creatures, is that he gently watches for them; reveals their truths so they are no longer hidden; puts their missing pieces back together; and approaches them as they are with love. This, I would think, must be the same way he sees me.
About this Blog
This blog shares the activities of Creation Justice Ministries. We educate and equip Christians to protect, restore, and rightly share God's creation.