From an early age we learn to associate, categorize and label, this is one of the ways we make sense of our world. A few of us become so fixated on organizing every nuance of life we become the obsessive Type A personality. I used to be one of those, more like a type A-plus. Everything had to be perfectly ordered in my world or I was seriously miserable, which meant I was miserable quite often. I liked things categorized and neatly put away in their place, not only material objects but also beliefs, doctrines, opinions, rules, regulations and people. I was very proficient at labeling people, placing mental descriptions on them and filing them away in a preconceived category in my mind.
I also became very accomplished at putting my ideas about the God I had learned of since childhood, in a box and nailing down the lid. Placing God in a box didn’t mean He was actually restricted to one or ever has been. My notions of Him were all in my mind. But time and circumstances have a way of changing us and I have come to understand that God doesn’t do boxes and neither should I.
During a day visiting our nearby Sea World, I was reminded how much God likes messing with me, popping the lid off my ‘boxes’ and stirring up my perfectly categorized little world. Just about the time I think I have Him figured out, He shows me that it is impossible for me to fully comprehend His ways. He doesn’t see like I do or think as I do. His ways are higher, wider and deeper…unlimited. While there is order in His creation, He left enough mystery to illustrate His divine sovereignty and mixed it all with a bit of humor. I picture Him chuckling as He presents a new clue just to keep me wondering.
As Mike and I wandered leisurely through Sea World enjoying the beautiful landscape and many creatures, we stopped by a small water feature, a waterfall and pond built for ducks and other water loving birds. We leaned against the railing for a long time, absorbing the tranquility of the scene. The many varieties of ducks were happily swimming, quacking, wagging their tail feathers and preening themselves and other than differing feather colors and configurations they had much in common.
Now everyone knows all ducks quack. It’s one of the things we learn as a toddler playing with our first alphabet toy, ‘D is for duck, the duck says quack.’ Then there’s the idiom we hear, ‘If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it’s probably a duck’. But none of these labels applied to one duck that we didn’t see at first, only heard.
“Who keeps whistling?” Mike asked, as he looked around.
I visually swept the area around us. No one was in sight at the moment and I realized the sound was coming from behind a shrub next to the water’s edge. “It’s something over there,” and pointed toward the bush. Just as I did a bird walked into the open. He looked like a duck in some respects, web feet, beautiful feathers and a wide, rounded bill but had a long giraffe type neck and when he opened his mouth to quack, out came a loud sound similar to a person whistling to get someone’s attention. We stared at him then looked at each other and laughed.
“Can you believe that?” Mike said. “God makes all ducks to quack then He has to throw in one that whistles… amazing!”
We found out that this species is called the (surprise!) Whistling Duck and comes from South America. Since then I’ve discovered the Barking Tree Frog. This guy doesn’t croak like other frogs, but makes the sound of a Pomeranian puppy high up in a tree in my Florida backyard, or how about the Upside Down Jellyfish who sits on its’ head on the ocean floor with tentacles in the air waiting for food to float by or the several varieties of Walking Fish whose fins act more like legs than rudders. Some people attribute these oddities to evolution; I prefer to accredit them to a divine Creator who enjoys throwing in a bit of surprise now and then just for fun.
We have a need for God to be humanized, to fit into what we can understand, but by an act of faith, dismantling the limits we have constructed for Him allows us to be receptive to the unusual and the impossible. The Spirit of God continually comes in many ways, even through nature (Romans 1:20), and attempts to take apart the confines of our heart so that all that is not truth and all that restricts us can be swept away.
I’m not a Type A-plus personality anymore. Over the years, I’ve been systematically and happily demoted to possibly a B-minus and what freedom comes in discovering it is God’s job to keep all my ducks in a row, not mine. Whether they quack or whistle, I can trust Him to keep my world ordered, even when I don’t fully understand!
Romans 11:33 (NLT) Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!