I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education. According to degree requirements, you had to have two areas of specialization. I love reading, so specializing in Reading was a no brainer. My other choice was made with more creative thought. Math was not my subject and I already had several Biology courses under my belt. Biology seemed to be the easiest and most convenient route. It's amazing how much you forget, but interesting the things you remember. I still remember that Scrophulariaceae is the scientific family name for the common foxglove flower. When you least expect it, some seemingly useless piece of information like this pops into your head.
You may not have ever heard or cared about the scientific name for the foxglove, but I'm pretty sure you have heard of scavengers and parasites. You have surely witnessed scavengers feeding off of dead organisms. It's also likely you've dealt parasites; organisms which have a self-beneficial relationship with a host which is entirely different (for example a flea on your furry friend). Before I bore you to tears, I'll try to explain where I'm going with this. Oddly, I found some similarity between simple organism and inter-human relationships.
Parasites, as we know, are organisms that thrive by taking advantage of a host. The parasite often grows, feeds or finds shelter from the other organism, often causing it harm. The cute bird perched on the giraffe's neck in the picture above looks to be a pal. The bird grooms the giraffe by ridding him of a hundred or more ticks, plus thousands of tick larvae daily. Surprisingly, in addition to the tick being a parasite, the bird is also said to be parasitic in relationship to the giraffe. The bird, once it removes the ticks, feeds on the giraffe's blood and is also known to peck at the sight causing wounds.
Do you know people who suck the joy right out of you leaving you deflated or even wounded?
Often unintentionally, a critical spirit will search out a joyous host and attempt to sap the joy and then peck on the fresh wound.
This is often done with the misconception that sapping someone else's joy will increase your own, but it doesn't work that way.
Don't be a joy sapper!
Let's talk about scavengers. We don't possibly know anyone who feasts on carnage, do we? I've seen my share of buzzards and shudder at the thought of resembling one. Scavengers feed off of their dead host to get energy and nourishment.
Does a nonliving host exist with humans?
If so, do we expect this host to sustain our life? Hmmm. Anybody want to talk about money? Or maybe a new shirt or cute new pair of shoes? There's nothing like entertainment to sustain me. "There's that movie I've been dying to see." "If we could just fix the floors and get new countertops". Why are we seemingly dependent on that which has no life. Why do we feed on substance incapable of giving us life?
Material possessions are often a life-filling substitution, but don't really foster growth, development or joy.
I find myself giddy when something random relates to who God is and what he does. Honestly, it's probably not as random as I believe;
For since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made...
Even the imperfect things, such as parasites which do not seemingly reflect his glory- point us to Him. He planned it all out perfectly.
So... ending on a brighter note, I have learned of a new type of symbiosis, or organism association. I don't remember ever hearing the term before.
Commensalism is a type of association between organisms where one organism benefits- leaving the other not harmed, but also not in need of it's host. What got me excited in reading about this type of symbiosis is that the word made up of com and mensa means "sharing a table". One example would be barnacles which have access to nutrients in the water by fastening themselves to whales; dinner and a free cruise.
I also read that in the Arctic tundra, caribous hunt by digging for lichen plants in the snow. The Arctic fox follows the caribou, finding its underground prey which has been surfaced thanks to the caribou; a sort of perpetual "lunch is on me" relationship. I don't remember learning about commensalism in Biology. It reminds me of our relationship with God; so off balance with benefit to us. While he doesn't need us, he stoops down in order to be in relationship with us!
He "shares a table" with us.
This fact blows me away. Hopefully God receives glory from me in the way that I live, but you know what? If neither I, nor any person, lived to bring him glory, "the rocks would cry out" (in his name) Luke 19:40. He doesn't need us. The whale and caribou are unintentionally beneficial. The bird and other parasites harm their hosts. Scavengers have no relationship, but only feed on death. God has created us with the purpose of being in a loving, living relationship with us. He enjoys us!
The imperfection that flaws my every earthly relationship, does not exist in my relationship with God; thanks be to Christ who makes this possible.
I am imperfect and can add nothing to the table in which God and I share. The life I have so graciously been given is only sustained at his table.
.....love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life....-Deuteronomy 30:20
Picture above taken at Masai Mara Wildlife Reserve in Kenya.