Our world is changing. The powerhouse of human advancement in the last century has brought us plenty of modern conveniences and safeguards. Travel that takes hours instead of days, medical care that has increased the average human lifespan by decades, digital connections that have made reams of information accessible with a few keystrokes. But in the midst of all our conquering, we still have to admit what we can’t control. A nature book I was reading recently told the story of King Philip I of Spain who was participating in the Siege of Acre in Palestine in 1189 AD. During a horse ride around the city walls, carrying his gyrfalcon, a sign of prestige and wealth, the bird suddenly broke loose from its leash, flew up, and perched on the city walls. Miffed that his badge of prestige and power had fled, Philip sent an envoy to King Saladin, the ruler of the city to return his falcon at once. Saladin refused. Philip was so loathe to lose his bundle of natural beauty and token of status that he sent a second envoy with heralds and royal pageantry, this time offering Saladin a thousand gold crowns for the bird (MacDonald). Philip had thought to possess this emblem of natural splendor, power, and hunting prowess. But he ultimately couldn’t keep it reined in. Trying to make any emblem of nature’s splendor your own property will end in defeat. Even if we amassed all the wealth this world could provide, we would still have to relinquish our grip someday. Every person goes the way of all the earth. We all have an ending date for our lives someday.
“’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8, 9) “For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for all the world is mine and everything in it.” (Psalm 50:10-12) God is the only One who really possesses this universe and all its bounty. The sooner we realize our limitations and recognize His sovereignty, the sooner we can realize the peace of being the people God created us to be. Yes, advancement has its blessings, but let’s not convince ourselves that we are have control over all in our purview. We are still God’s humble citizens and we can trust in Him rather than our own power, wisdom, or supposed possessions. Thank God that He is the One calling the shots.
MacDonald, Helen. H is for Hawk. New York: Grove Press, 2014.