November 02, 2023

Learning to Pay Attention

Genesis 1:20-26

God said, “. . . Let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.”

—  Genesis 1:20

For anyone who has grown up under the wide-open skies of a prairie, where the horizons are far and wide and the ground is soft, it can be quite a shock to move to the city. The concrete, high-rises, and constant bustle can be disorienting. That was my experience a couple of decades ago when I moved to Vancouver, British Columbia. Though Vancouver is a beautiful city, it wasn’t familiar or welcoming to me at first. I often walked with a downward gaze, wondering how to connect with a place that didn’t feel like home. Then one day the phrase “Look at the birds” entered my mind, and that was an unusual idea for me. From my perspective, birds were okay, but I didn’t know how to identify many of them. Yet I suddenly remembered that Jesus had said, “Look at the birds”—and I took it as a holy invitation to lift my eyes up. As I began paying attention, I saw that birds of all kinds were everywhere, in every season—even in the city! It shifted my perspective dramatically.

Perhaps you feel far from home, or as if you don’t belong in the place where you are now. Could God be inviting you to lift up your eyes so that you can take note of his work around you and his provisions in life? Will you join me in being filled with wonder as we reflect on birds as an important part of his creation?

Loving God, help us to lift up our eyes. May we notice your marvelous creation, in which you have even placed birds in the sky as a daily reminder of your care. Amen.

About the author — Julia Prins Vanderveen

Julia Prins Vanderveen works and lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with her husband, Trevor, and their three sons. Julia has served as a copastor with Trevor at a church in Vancouver. She is a campus pastor and a humanities teacher at the Vancouver Christian School.

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