April 23, 2015 | Steve Vistaunet

During a warm snap back in February, I had a talk with a of clump daffodils stubbornly pushing up through the dirt in our front yard. “What are you doing?” I exclaimed. “It’s the middle of winter. You shouldn’t be up yet.” 

“What do you know,” their spokesflower retorted. “You’ve never been a flower.”

“Touché,” I replied. “But I know what happens every year. You guys come shooting up only to get bitten off again by freezing weather. You’ve got two months until spring! Save your energy for later.”

“No worries,” came the response. “We’re good.”

Disgruntled by their disregard, I trundled down the driveway to where a maple tree showed leaf buds just beginning to turn green.

“Not you too!” I cried. “I depend on you to unfurl those leaves on schedule, and you’re way ahead of the game.”

“Have you ever been a tree?” it asked. “Ever felt the sap start to rise?”

“No,” I replied. “But you lost all your leaves in the fall, and I’d like to see them come back — on schedule.”

“I’ve got it covered,” said the tree, with a glance at my shiny head. “That’s more than I can say about you.”

“Another touché,” said I.

I walked back toward the house, only to pause at the familiar call of a robin. “This is getting ridiculous,” I thought to myself. “Hey up there,” I called. “I just put the Christmas tree away. You’re supposed to be hunkered down for the winter like the rest of us. Save your singing for the spring.”

He cocked his head, hopped a couple of branches higher and sang on.

Of course that was eons ago, and spring has officially been here for more than a month, at least according to the calendar. The flowering bushes are just fine. The tree along the driveway looks no worse for the experience. The robin and his friends are singing up a storm. Global warming or not, all my feathered friends, indeed most of nature, seem to be in better shape than I and some of my two-legged cohorts.

I can check out the latest weather radar on my computer screen, scan supermarket bar codes on my mobile phone and play Frisbee golf on my television at home. It’s a cinch to sniff the political wind on CNN, navigate the city with a GPS and make plane reservations online. But when it comes to responding to the Creator, I have a lot to learn from flora and fauna.

It’s a message echoed in the words of Jer. 8:7: “Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the LORD.”

Honest old Jeremiah rates our spiritual IQ even lower than “birdbrains.” With traits and tastes curated through years of practice, the tendencies of cultural Adventists may respond more readily to the fickle whims of society than the simple Word of God. Perhaps it’s why His children are so often referred to as sheep.

Yet there is always hope. If a flower, tree or bird can faithfully answer the call of the Creator, certainly our “little flock” can rediscover an urgency to listen to the Spirit and once again seek the voice of the Shepherd.