Knowing full well that I should've been changing the cats' litter box, mopping the kitchen floor or cleaning out the bedroom closet, I changed instead into my baggy sweatpants, put on my comfy tennis shoes, grabbed a map, the binoculars, my camera and the ever-present cup of coffee… and took off. I was on a mission to find the elusive great blue heron rookery that I'd read about in Sunday's paper.
I have a fascination with blue herons. Beautiful enough to look at while standing still, they are a magnificent sight in flight. Ever since the evening I was sitting in a boat on a nearby lake and saw one lift off the water and fly across the setting sun, I've been hooked. Now I look for them everywhere and occasionally see them in creeks and other waterways, or sometimes flying overhead.
And so the article in Sunday's paper caught my eye. I couldn't imagine seeing their nesting colony - large numbers of them in close proximity, working together to raise their young. I set off to find it, knowing it wouldn't be easy to track down. The columnist refused to reveal the rookery's location, noting that the herons had abandoned an earlier one in the same county when the Department of Wildlife attracted too much attention to the area. The birds like to be left alone, to nest in seclusion. The only clue to aid me in my search was a stream name the author had mentioned once in an earlier column on the same subject. I headed off in that direction, driving carefully with the radio off and my windows rolled down, hoping to hear the squawking sound of the birds together or catch sight of one in the air overhead. Looking for the large nests high in the branches of sycamore trees, I had my eyes on the skyline as much as on the road before me.
In the same way, I'm on a mission to find the glory of God - to discover His dwelling place - the secret place of the Most High. Looking for it is an adventure that causes me to abandon other pursuits and to leave other desires behind. I travel carefully, with my tools beside me; my map (the Word of God), my binoculars (the Holy Spirit), and my camera (my prayer journal, in which I record my discoveries). I travel carefully, with my ears open to the sound of His call, looking for a sign of Him that will lead me in His direction. God’s Word promises that we will find Him when we search for Him with all our hearts.
I didn't find the rookery in today's search, but I’ll look for it again another day. Yet I did see some things I'd never seen before - a huge, empty nest, perhaps built by herons, high in a sycamore tree… a pileated woodpecker on a tree by the side of the road, and a wild turkey – it’s hard to say which of us was more surprised to see the other! Most importantly, I had an absolutely wonderful time in my search… which may have been the whole point of the afternoon. Maybe the message God wanted me to glean from the experience was that the joy in the journey itself is a big part of the glory at the end of the road.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”