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A Birder’s Analogy: Enjoying Both the Shallows and the Depths

Bonaparte's Gull in the breakers on the coast of South Carolina, photo credit: William Wise Photography

[Originally published as Creation Speaks: Satisfying Shallows to Delighful Depths]

Birdwatching. Birding. Ornithology.

In most minds, those three terms conjure differing depths of avian appreciation. Bird enthusiasm ranges from the simple enjoyment of backyard birds to submerging in state lists and big years and even deeper into the intellectual fathoms of anatomy and natural history. The books on the shelf range from Your Backyard Feeder to Latin Terms for Taxonomists.

In the same manner, the Bible is a book of unending fathomage. From inspiring daily devotionals through word studies and commentaries to the depths of theology, the Sacred Writ can be enjoyed and experienced on so many different levels.

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But is one level of devotee better than another? Is the ornithologist more serious or dedicated than a birder? Is the theologian more important than the lay congregant? Are we only dipping in our toes when we should be swimming deeper? Are we drowning in the depths and neglecting the satisfaction of the shallows?

In reality, one can be all things or just be what one desires! In his chapter of Good Birders Still Don’t Wear White, David A. La Puma writes,

Find out what you love about birds and dive in; the pool of knowledge is deep and rich and full of others happy to help you along the way.

An ornithologist can still enjoy birdwatching just as a theologian should still delight in daily devotionals.

Our Christian life and experience, like birding, should enjoy the shallows, wade into the depths, dive into the deep ocean trenches, and swim back again.

Just as you would enjoy cardinals and chickadees at your backyard feeder or decide to tackle identifying the gulls, sparrows, and peeps, enjoy your yearly reading plan through the New Testament and Psalms and simultaneously sound the depths of biblical wisdom and application. Find out what you love about the Word of God in this season of life and dive in. The only wrong thing to do is to completely dry up!

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Written by William Wise

Hi, I’m wildlife photographer and nature writer William Wise. I was saved under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology at the University of Georgia. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. I’m currently an animal shelter director and live in Athens, Georgia with my wife and two teenage daughters, who are all also actively involved in ministry. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation. William Wise Nature Notes is my wildlife and birding photo blog documenting the beauty, design and wonder of God’s creation. I am also a guest author at Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures and The Creation Club . -- "What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations." Psalms 104, The Message.

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