The seagulls swoop and soar above our heads waiting for the moment we’ll walk away so they can raid our snacks. I stay put on our beach blanket, guarding what’s ours, because I refuse to share our goodies with the beady-eyed creatures and their potentially germ-infested feathers. The kids call for me to fetch them a bucket of water from the ocean, and I’m torn between protecting and playing. But I drag my body away from my post and oblige. I tell myself childhood only happens once and to be the present parent I want to be. Soon, though, their giggles and fruitless efforts to build a sand pool make me stay and laugh with them. I snap photos and record videos because one day I want them to be able to look back and remember who they were.
I sneak a peek at our precious snacks, and I notice at least three seagulls creeping up on our blanket. They bob their heads to the left and right as if they’re casually taking a stroll on the sand. “Nothing to see here,” their beady eyes seem to say, but I’m onto them and run back to shoo them away.
They flap a couple of yards away, but they stay close. They’re persistent and patient and always at the ready.
I generally find birds to be disgusting, but this time, I see their scavenging as shrewdness, as wisdom. I think of Matthew 6:26, which says, “Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?” For those seagulls, the Father was feeding them through the chips and crackers spilled by children along the beach shore. The nutritional value of the food probably wasn’t great, but they were fed nonetheless. The wisdom I saw in those birds was this: they received what was provided. They looked for food, found it, and went for it with boldness.
I wonder, then, about the times I’ve asked God for wisdom but waited around for it to drop from the skies instead of actively seeking it. Or the times I’ve asked but didn’t receive what was given to me because of the way it was provided or because of the messenger it was given through. I wonder if my preferences become pickiness and I end up foolish instead of wise when God’s been providing wisdom for me all along.
My friend, Chantel, often quotes the idiom, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” Not every advice or encouragement or warning should be taken in whole, but neither should it be thrown out in its entirety. Wisdom is being able to pick out the truth from the things that don’t matter and feeding ourselves accordingly. I’m not great at this as I like to receive what I like the way I like it. I can be incredibly childish and immature and stubborn in that way, and I am more often than not. But I want to learn from the birds. I want to be hungrier than I am picky for the wisdom God wants to give me.
If we are more valuable than the seagulls at the beach, then God must be providing wisdom for us more abundantly than we can imagine. So when the opportunities to learn and grow in wisdom present themselves, we need to be shrewd enough to find the truth and open enough to receive it. Our job is to be like those birds – hungry, persistent, and ready to receive what is given.