Kids notice everything.
Anyone who’s had a younger sibling knows that nothing gets past those little people. Three years younger than my big sis, I noticed every new freckle on her nose before she did.
I am blessed with two granddaughters, ages 3 and 5. Last week, five-year-old Ellie touched my forehead. “Why do you have an extra line there?” she asked. I consulted the mirror and discovered a lovely new wrinkle.
Ellie and sister Cassie love everything about the great outdoors (except bees and wasps). No caterpillar crosses their road unnoticed. They catch butterflies with their bare hands, releasing them after a moment’s observation. They delight in sparrows, roly polies, mourning doves, and baby anythings.
But I know what happens.
Somewhere along the way, most of us stop noticing the little miracles in our own backyards. And even if we do notice, if we hear birds singing outside the window, we might not pause long enough to thank the Creator for the miraculous music.
I need Psalm 49:1-2, urging me: “Pay attention, everyone in the world! High and low, rich and poor—listen!”
I need Jesus, encouraging me to have “ears to hear.”
One of the reasons I love writing about animals and nature is that it makes me pay attention. There are so many animals in the world that no one can agree on the number. Estimates run in the trillions, with a probable 30 million unidentified species of insects. Psalm 19:1-4 says that the heavens proclaim the glory of God and the sky shows off God’s craftsmanship, making God known everywhere. I’m thinking the same could be said about God’s handiwork in creating animals.
When I was writing My Bible Animals Storybook, I noticed a moth flying about, and I remembered that God didn’t just create moths—Jesus used them as a warning: “Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Matthew 6:20. Moths—amazing little creatures, who don’t like cotton or spandex, but love silk, cashmere, wool, and furs. I learned that it’s the moth caterpillars who dine on our clothes because grown-up moths don’t have mouths.
And what about scorpions? “If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children,” Jesus said, “how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” Luke 11:13.
God packed mystery and intrigue into scorpions. Some have six eyes, others 12. Babies ride on their mother’s back for the first few weeks of life. And scorpions are tough. A scorpion can live on one insect per year, if he has to. And you could put one in your freezer all night, and it would crawl right out in the morning.
Other Bible animals appear in My Bible Animal Storybook, creatures that should fill us with childlike wonder:
• Sparrows—Although they’re so common that 7 out of 10 birds you’ll see today will probably be sparrows, each sparrow can sing you 21 songs.
• Fish—So many fish in the sea! The fastest, the sailfish, could keep up with cars on the highway, and the slowest, the seahorse, would need two hours to swim across your bedroom.
• Bees—Bees are born fully grown, and they never sleep, only mini-naps (which might explain why they’re so grouchy?).
• From hardworking ants to hapless, frightened sheep, the Bible is filled with amazing animals.
“Pay” is the right word to put with “attention.” There is a cost—in time, thoughts, priorities. Maybe we should all pay ten minutes a day observing creation. And in return, we might recapture what was so natural when we were kids–a childlike astonishment.
That’s what I’d like to see happening as parents and grandparents read My Bible Animals Storybook to toddlers. I love imagining the shared wonder that leads to appreciation—because appreciation leads to heartfelt praise.
The everyday world should astound us, should stop us in our tracks and poke us to praise our Creator. All we have to do is pay attention.