Acting like an animal can be a good thing, just don't be a rooster

Voices of Religion

Posted: Friday, December 05, 2003

Busy as a beaver, sly as a fox, brave as a lion, grouchy as a bear. How many times do we use animals and their habits to illustrate human behavior?

Some are good traits, while some are not so good. Some are downright bad. Let's consider how we might learn something profitable from animals.

Two animals went to pray: a cock and a glowworm. And therein lies both a story and a lesson.

Vain as a peacock, gentle as a dove, raucous as a crow. These descriptions of birds also find their way into our vocabulary.

The cock rooster to us normal mortals prayed as follows: "Do not forget, Lord, it is I who makes the sun rise. I am your servant, but, with the dignity of my calling, I need some glitter and ostentation. Noblesse oblige. ... All the same, I am your servant, only do not forget, Lord, I make the sun rise. Amen."

Does that prayer make you think of a strutting banty rooster? One that is trying its best to impress God and the entire world with his importance and status? One that feels the world revolves around himself?

Prayer is, and always has been, considered to be an integral part of the life of Christians, Jews, Muslims and other religious people. It is a means of communicating with God, of calling out for help, of expressing gratitude for blessings, of seeking forgiveness for sin.

At times, however, the manner in which we approach our God makes all the difference in the world.

How often do we approach God in the same manner as our friend the cock?

"God, aren't you lucky (Oops! A better word would be fortunate, since we may not officially believe in luck.)?

"Here I am, deigning to include you in my day's activities. I have squeezed you into my busy schedule, between my exercise regimen and my latte.

"I have also informed you of the significance I place on my importance to you in the affairs of your world. 'Remember, I make the sun rise.'"

We shift so easily from recognizing God's work to thinking we make it happen. A subtle change takes place. We become self-centered rather than God-centered.

Is there any wonder that so often our days are like those of a hamster in its rotating cage, always running, perpetually moving, ever expending energy, but somehow not quite having satisfactory results?

Rather than thinking the creation revolves around us, and exists for our benefit, wouldn't it be much better if we would wonder at the creation, and worship the Creator?

"Dear God, would you take your light a little farther away from me? I am like a morsel of cinder and need your night for my heart to dare to flicker out its feeble star: its hope, to give to other hearts, what is stolen from all poverty a gleam of joy. Amen." The Prayer of the Glowworm, by Carmen Bernos De Gasztold.

In Luke's record of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ (Luke 18: 9-17), he relates a parable Jesus told of two men who went to the temple to pray. One reminds me of the rooster, while the other seems to have more of the glowworm's perspective.

May we you and I rediscover the wonder of a God so big that we marvel at his greatness, thrill at his love and stand in awe that he would allow us to share in his bountiful goodness.

Now that will remove the ostentation of the rooster's prayer from our hearts and thoughts.

That will bring us to our knees in reverent worship of him. That will set our poor lisping, stammering tongues to endeavor to express our love and devotion to him.

That will enable us to pray that God will help "this little light of mine" to shine in our own corner. Glowworms have their place and work, you know.

Playful as a kitten, faithful as a dog, stubborn as a mule, gentle as a lamb, shall we continue?

Now, how may I reflect more of the good characteristics of animals, such as the glowworm?

Charles G. Thornton is associate pastor of Peninsula Grace Brethren Church, 44175 Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna. Sunday worship and Bible classes are at 9:30 and 11 a.m.

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