Bob Tamasy: It's Uncanny What A Pelican Can Do That We Can't

Thursday, August 18, 2022 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

What’s your favorite bird? The cardinal, with its bright red plumage? Or the blue jay, another crested specimen in an equally beautiful blue? How about the wobbly-walking penguin, with its tuxedo-like color scheme? Or the stately bald eagle, appropriately chosen as a symbol of American pride and grandeur?

 

Perhaps your choice would lean toward a more domesticated variety, like a parakeet, canary, cockatoo, or even a parrot. My personal favorite? As was reaffirmed during a recent trip to Daytona Beach, Fla., it’s the pelican.

What? That ugly bird? Well, yeah, but not because it has a face only a momma bird could love.

 

Over the years I’ve observed pelicans at a variety of beaches on Florida’s Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Each time I’ve been amazed by these skillful fish hunters. They can seem so unpresentable up close – at least when compared to their feathery counterparts, like gulls, puffins, gannets, petrels and terns. (Did you know that one good tern deserves another?) And yet, when flying in formation, gliding along the wind currents as they soar effortlessly overhead, they collectively become a thing of beauty.

 

To me, pelicans provide a powerful visual metaphor for how we must look to God. Ephesians 2:10 declares that we are “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” However, in His holiness and righteousness, we must sometimes look anything but glowing examples of His workmanship.

 

Earlier in the same chapter it states, “As for you, you were dead in your trespasses and sin, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world…gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts…” (Ephesians 2:1-3). Not a very pretty picture; as such, we appeared to be anything but being godly, created in the image of God, as Genesis 1:27 tells us.

 

And yet, to return to the example of Mr. Pelican, he’s been created specially and specifically by God: Beady eyes that work perfectly for spotting fish far above the surface of the water. Its mouth equipped with muscles to pull the flexible lower jawbones outward to form a large pouch suited for catching and transporting its fishy prey. And wings that not only propel it quickly over the water, but also enable it to soar far overhead.

 

Relating this wondrous design to humans, God’s consummate creation, we can recognize that just as He devised a unique design for the humble pelican, He also has a purposeful, one-of-a-kind design for each of us. As Psalm 139:13-14 reminds us, “For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made….”

 

When we are doing what the Lord created us to do, whether it’s raising children, giving a speech, tending to the sick, teaching students, starting a new business, writing a book or dancing on a stage, the Lord must marvel at us with delight. We become transformed, flaws and foibles unseen, like the gawky-looking pelican flying aloft with others in formations that would rival that of precision-piloted jet fighters.

 

As God declares in Isaiah 43:6-7, “…Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth – everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” When we’re engaged in pursuits the Lord has prepared for us, we have the privilege of bring Him honor and glory.

 

Speaking of how He revels in turning the hearts of His rebellious children back to Him, God says, “When they see among them their children, the work of my hands, they will keep my name holy; they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob and stand in awe of the God of Israel” (Isaiah 29:23).

 

We might not be capable of soaring high above, carried about by the winds, or diving swiftly into the ocean to capture fish in our mouths. (I’m kind of glad we can’t do the latter.) But when we go to work as ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20); or train up our children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6); or love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:31), I suspect we bring even more joy to the heart of God.


* * *

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is btamasy@comcast.net.


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