I was recently in Galveston for the second time, sharing with a wonderful Hispanic congregation there called New Life Fellowship. I stayed at a different hotel this time; this one was a block off the beach. After the pastor dropped me off from spending the early afternoon with he and his staff, I had a few hours of free time before the evening service and decided I had to go to the beach. I was somewhat disappointed to find that, at this particular part of the seacoast in Galveston, it wasn’t actually a beach. It was a mere seawall, but water all the same. It was a bit windy and the waves were coming in pretty strong, pounding upon the rocks below in steady rhythm.
Off the wall a few hundred feet were a few guys surf fishing out in the water. Just beyond the men there were also several brown pelicans in the water fishing and seemingly more successful than their human counterparts. There were also several pelicans that were flying overhead. I haven’t seen a pelican since my days in Louisiana, more than sixteen years ago. I always loved watching pelicans. I’ve always thought they’re some of the most curiously built creatures. Honestly, they almost look like mistakes: oversized bills and heads, web feet, oddly shaped bodies – they just don’t look right. Their symmetry is off. They just look like a mistake. But when they fish or when they fly, they are true things of beauty. Their wing spans can be 6’5” but you’d never know it at first glance. They fold those mighty wings up in the most compact sort of way. Their big heads and beaks get tucked in just the right place so they become the aerodynamic flying machines that gracefully cut through the air like fighter jets. They are simply AMAZING!
I marveled at God’s design. How brilliant was He to come up with such a perfect cacophony of shapes, sizes and forms to make this bird a fishing and flying machine? Observing pelicans on land I would never guess that these creatures would ever be master fishers, or glide on thermal currents sixty feet above the ocean and dive bomb their pray at speeds up to 50 miles per hour. But they do it! Why? Because God designed them for that purpose. Granted, pelicans are not going to win the “pretty bird” award like an eagle or a hawk or the blue jay in my yard, but they can do things that none of those others can do because they are living out the Father’s intention for their creation.
Sitting on the seawall I thought about how often I have compared myself to others and been discouraged. Why didn’t I look like the cover of men’s health or some idealized sense of self I had imagined in my mind? But as I marveled at the beauty of the pelicans I was reminded that I too was created with intentionality and by design – God’s design. He has created me a man for a reason and with a purpose. When I live into the design and intention of my Creator I, like the pelicans, am lifted to new heights and experience new truth that is only seen from the loftiness of fulfilling His intention and not that of my own.
Pelicans can dream about gathering seed like a blue jay, but that wouldn’t serve them well when they are plunged beneath the ocean’s surface to catch a fish. They are designed for their function and so am I.
Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”
Indeed, on the seawall that windy day I knew the Creator had a purpose for me, for you, for each of us, no matter how we might appear to the world.