Zoo Lessons

Saturday the family went to the Montgomery Zoo. As zoos go it isn’t the greatest one in the world, but it is about perfect for a small child as you can see everything in less than 3 hours. We weren’t sure how Nathan would respond. We didn’t know if he was old enough to appreciate looking at the animals yet, but we thought it would be a good walk if nothing else.

The first animal we encountered was a small medium sized red bird inside of a walk through cage. Nathan loved that bird. He clapped and smiled and looked at us and then looked back at the bird as if to say “Do you guys see this thing! Isn’t it rad!” (my son thinks in 80’s slang I am sure).

We spent a ton of time with that bird and then we moved on to look at the other animals. We were excited by his response–sure that this day at the zoo would be magical as he went from one new discovery to another.

As it turns out the only thing in the whole zoo that he responded to in that way was that red bird. There were some things that he looked at, but nothing made him smile in the same way. We saw lions and elephants and zebras. A tiger walked close enough for us to see his teeth and a rino shambled over to just a few feet from the fence that we were standing by. But nothing seemed to wow him. 

Eventually we wandered back to the red bird and his walk through cage and Nathan wandered around in there chasing birds and smiling.

He is what I figured out. The bird was something that he could understand. It was his size and something he had seen before, only a little exotic. He responded in the same way that he does when Meredith puts a towel on her head “This thing that I know is different and that is narley” All of the other things that I found fascinating because I know what they are, what they can do, where they come from, he didn’t really respond too because he has no frame of reference. He doesn’t know enough to be in awe yet. He doesn’t know that the big smelly rock looking thing that was walking beneath us comes from a whole separate continent. He didn’t know that the white tiger that walked close to us could eat us both if it wasn’t for the fence separating us. He didn’t know enough to be amazed–yet.

And there is the cool part of being a parent and of following God. There will be a day in the very near future when he will start to learn more about those animals that he sees and suddenly it will be the lions and the bears that capture his attention. As he learns more his level of wonder won’t decrease it will actually grow.

As we learn more about God we find new ways to be amazed by him. In the beginning we start with what we know. God sent his son to die for us. That is pretty amazing, but then we start to learn more. We learn about the holiness of God and about his mercy. We learn about every day miracles and about how he calls messed up people like me to be his workers. Everyday that we learn more about him we find something new to be amazed about.

So are you amazed at the small parts of God. You should be. You should be amazed at every aspect of who he is. But are you learning more about him so that you can be amazed even more? Are you seeking to know more about who he is so that you can be blown away by his wonder? The more you know, the more you will stand in awe of Him. 

(Additional spiritual point to the same story: When we know the back story of people we are able to appreciate them better. Nathan liked the bright red bird because it was something he could understand, but he couldn’t grasp what was so great about some of the other animals because he didn’t know anything about them. I think there are people in all of our lives that we just sort of overlook that if we took the time to understand a bit better would fascinate us to no end. There are lions around us that we are not seeing because we are sticking with the safe people we know. Are there people in your life that you are overlooking?)

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