Life Lessons From A Seagull: Part 3

You can’t go to the Jersey Shore without walking on the boardwalk and partaking in the many healthy delicacies it offers.  And while walking the boardwalk, you just can’t go without having the frozen custard, the famous pizza, or the french fries before you leave.  To do so just wouldn’t be right. It would feel like something was missing from your visit there…that in order to have had your fill or for your visit to be complete, you must have the necessary ingredients: custard, pizza & fries.  At least that’s what I think.   Perhaps you have a different set of ingredients for your boardwalk fill.

I think the Jersey Shore Gulls think same thing…They just can’t go to the boardwalk without having their fill….of french fries.  With the same boldness they exhibit while taking sandwiches (see Part 1), their minds are set on the Fries of Life.  If you ask me, I think the seagulls were addicted to fries.  I really do.  As I visited the shore throughout my childhood, I remember the seagulls swooping down to grab hold of these fries from unsuspecting tourists.   Some tourists, so amused by the seagulls’ behavior, would encourage the gulls by throwing them a fry or holding a fry out for them to take.  I remember thinking: “What are they thinking?! Don’t they know that when you feed one, others will come?! Helloooooo?!”

When we think of addictions, we often think of others being addicted to crack, cocaine, alcohol, chocolate, pills, or whatever.  But if we think about it more, all of us struggle with some kind of addiction.  It might be an addiction to any substance, but at the very least, because of our sin nature, we struggle with the addiction of me (placing ourselves (what we want, etc.) above God).  We may often think, “If only I can get that one thing, that fry, then I will have what I need and be happy.”  As Christians, we know that this is an endless pursuit, but we may still live for it.  We often seek after people’s praise, work for material things, eat certain tasty foods, or whatever to get that high or sense of gratification, only to long for it again real soon.  Like feeding the seagull, feeding it only results in more hungry seagulls.  Getting our desires filled by things in this world will also result in more of a hunger for worldly things, and yet we would never be satisfied.

I’m reminded of the Woman at the Well (John 4), where Jesus shares with her that he is the living water and that if she takes the water he offers, she will never be thirsty again.  He then goes on to tell her her history of relationships with men.  What is the connection between his living water and her history with men?  I think Jesus was telling her that she was “looking for love in all the wrong places.”  I believe Jesus was telling her that he was the one who will complete her, who will fill her with the love that she needs.  These men in her life were french fries…they would fill her for a little while, but their love was not meant to fill her or to bring her life.  Nothing will fill us like the living water…like a genuine, honest, and heartfelt relationship with Jesus Christ. 

The Jersey Shore Gulls will never know about this, so they will go on taking sandwiches and feeding their addiction to fries, but they will never be truly filled.  Hopefully we won’t be so gullible and do the same. 

* Seagull artwork by Arlene Miller (Fred’s Aunt)

Life Lessons From A Seagull: Part 2

When life gives you lemons – make lemonade.   Behind every dark cloud there is a silver lining.  When the going gets tough, the tough gets going……  Well, we can cliche people to death, helping them see that there is the light amidst the darkness, a rose among the thorns, a diamond in the rough, and all that.  Well, here’s one more for you:  When a seagull poops on your head, be glad he didn’t steal your sandwich too (see Life Lessons from a Seagull: Part 1).   No I didn’t get pooped on (this time), but I know someone who did on their trip to the shore.  People say that we must learn from all of our hard times and difficult circumstances…and I agree with that.  But seriously, what is it that we could possibly learn from a bird relieving itself on you?  Don’t be in the wrong place at the wrong time?  Poop happens?  Well, at least we can learn that when you go to the beach, wear a hat. 

The news that we so painstakingly know is this…sometimes, life is not fair…at least, not in the way we see fairness.  Bad things happen.  We get pooped on by those we don’t know and by those we do.  Sometimes when we’re on the receiving end of the bad it can seem so…well, overwhelming.  Loved ones hurt us (maybe constantly).  Family and friends die.  Unemployment occurs, cars break down, and our bodies deteriorate and we suffer.  When we receive the bad stuff time after time again, especially so close in time to one another, we get overwhelmed and often find it so hard to cope.  Before we know it, we are starting to question God’s love for us and His goodness towards us.  We throw our hands up in the air like Steve Carell in Evan Almighty and yell “Are you kiddin’ me?”

At times I think it would be easier to cope with such events if we knew God’s purposes.  Othertimes, I think if we were to know the reasons behind these events that God allowed, it would turn us away from God because we would not be able to see past our grief and pain.  Although I may go back and forth in my thinking, these things I do know…that despite the circumstances, God is always good.  Despite the trying times and sufferings we go through, God is always Love.  Being anchored in the truth of His goodness and love is essential if we are going to make it amidst the storms of life.  We may get tossed to and fro a bit, but if we remain anchored, our faith and lives will not be shipwrecked.  Okay, enough of that analogy.

So maybe we can learn something from getting pooped on.  Life does not go they way we want it to go.  It just doesn’t.  How we respond to such events will show a lot about your character and relationship with God.  If you yell and curse at someone who “poops” on you and act out in vengeance towards them, what have you learned?  Nothing. You’re trying to do the teaching, not the learning.  If you constantly put yourself out there to get pooped on, then that is exactly what will happen.  But if you’re prepared for such events, being anchored in the truth, knowing that bad things do happen, then such events will not waver your faith.  Why?  Because you have placed your trust in an always good and loving God who makes all things good (Rom 8:28).  How will you react or respond when you get pooped on?

Karen Hoffner, our Board Director and good friend, talked about a wonderful moment in prayer with God. While sitting on her porch quietly taking in the sun, a bird landed on her arm and chirped as if to say “Hello.”   Karen saw this little gift from God, thinking how wonderful that little reminder was to her that God was with her.  As the bird started to take off, it first decided to leave a nice deposit on her arm.  Yes, God’s little reminder to her pooped on her arm.  And what was Karen’s response?  Karen laughed… because sometimes we simply learn that God has a sense of humor, too.