As we move from spring into fall, the weather begins to cool, and in the North the trees begin to show their fall colors. The birds who have happily feasted on the surplus of bugs and abundance of space found in the North begin to think about making the long flight back to their wintering grounds. Birds of every shape and size take flight and wing their way south. Some go as far as South America, others take refuge just below the snow line, and others, such as the snowy owl, simply find a place with a little less cold weather.
Some birds travel at night, using the stars to navigate. Others travel by day. But all seem to know where they are going and how to get there—no map needed. The incredible act of migration sees birds who weigh about as little as a pen embark on an incredible journey covering thousands of miles. Along the way they depend on undisturbed landscapes for food and to take a rest along their flight. They face dangers and uncertainties. It takes a lot of hard work (flying hundreds of miles a day, sometimes over open water, is no easy task!), but every year birds faithfully make the journey. How they do it is a puzzle that scientists still are trying to unravel. I doubt the birds themselves understand how and why they make this journey or realize the dangers they will face. Yet year after year they take wing, trusting their God-given instincts to fly thousands of miles twice a year.
What can we learn from the flight of these small birds? First, know that God is in control. Even though we might not understand it, there is a reason for all things. Second, as with the birds, sometimes our journey can be unknown and fraught with difficulties. It might feel as if we have no idea where we are headed, but we have to trust that God knows exactly where we are going and will get us there.
Read Jeremiah 17:7-8 and 29:11 and Hebrews 11:1. What do these passages tell us about faith and trust?
Research a bird that makes a migration journey and see how far it flies every year. Now try to figure out how long it would take you to make that trip on a bicycle. Many people can bike 60 miles (100 km) a day. Do you think you could make that journey twice a year? How does this affect how you see migration?
About the Author
Susie Vander Vaart is an environmental educator and ecologist who spends most of her time outside exploring creation.