2005-07-28 - Penguins Ahoy
Originally Published 2002-11-21
Matt 10:16-18 "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves. 17 "But beware of men; for they will deliver you up to the courts, and scourge you in their synagogues; 18 and you shall even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. (NAS)
I was digging through my desk at work when I found an old clipping I had grabbed out of an email. It had been so long since I had seen the story it was like reading it new.
A Mexican newspaper reports that bored Royal Air Force pilots stationed on the Falkland Islands have devised what they consider a marvelous new game. Noting that the local penguins are fascinated by airplanes, the pilots search out a beach where the birds are gathered and fly slowly along it at the waters edge. Perhaps ten thousand penguins turn their heads in unison watching the planes go by, and when the pilots turn around and fly back, the birds turn their heads in the opposite direction, like spectators at a slow-motion tennis match. Then, the paper reports "The pilots fly out to sea and directly to the penguin colony and overfly it. Heads go up, up, up and ten thousand penguins fall over gently onto their backs.
I can not imagine what ten thousand black and white bowling pins must be like but the mental image was hysterical. And yet the story implies that this will happen every time a pilot gets a chance to try this trick.
The story reminded me of human nature as much as anything. I have caught myself reacting to something I have read or heard with enthusiasm. Later I would realize after I thought about the topic for a few more considered minutes that I had allowed myself to be taken up in a wave of emotion or fancy words. A good mental kick in the back of the head and I feel better. How did I allow myself to fall for this cleverly couched argument?
Then again - how many of us would have been in the group that wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery? She was guilty after all! That was never denied. And we are all as guilty as she was. How many of us would have laughed at Noah building his enormous ark, miles from water? Remember that no one had ever seen or could imagine water falling from the sky as rain prior to that fateful day - and we would have been just as wrong. How many of us would have bet against Columbus as he sailed west? Everybody knows he will get too close to the edge of the world and fall off into oblivion. Those poor men going with him - so sad.
How many of us would have been in the crowed shouting, "Crucify Him!"?
I believe that most of us are prone to believe a little too much of what we hear without checking out the details ourselves. Sometimes it is not possible to check the sources ourselves and we have to either trust the source or wait for more information. Waiting is acceptable in many cases. Part of being wise as serpents is using the brain God gave us for more than a hat rack. And here is a real shocker. Sometimes the things that the world thinks are important are simply not. Yes, we do have our freedoms to defend so that the gospel can still go out. The temporal present world is not without any importance. But I urge you not to get drawn into factious arguments or caught up into things that have you tipping over on your back like a penguin.
Does this mean you can't read simply for enjoyment? Not at all. We all need a little break periodically. That's not the point. At one point late in the life of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) the company decided they needed a new logo to freshen up their image. After countless hours and literally millions of dollars and amid great fanfare the result was to change the color of the logo with no other change. DEC was bought up shortly after that. The time, effort and money that was poured into this decision was wasted 100%. The result was a frivolous, pointless change. And in the end it made no difference.
The point is - make a difference. Perhaps not with every single breath, but to be known as a wise or considered person requires that you think and often times independently and against the crowd of common wisdom. Talk with people who do not necessarily agree with you and hear them. Discuss your ideas and let them take an honest attempt at poking a hole in your thoughts. Not unlike Tim visiting his friend in ICU - allow yourself to be impressed with the events that surround you. The man down the hall passed from this life and Tim saw the relevant point that the man's eternal destiny was eternally set. Pow! What does that say to each one of us?
Don't be a penguin.
Lord Jesus - You have given us eyes to see and ears to hear. You speak to us through the events around us all day long. Help us hear and see so we can learn. Show us the critical things - so that we can prepare those around us and ourselves for eternity. Amen.
Grace & Peace,