Before moving to Ohio, I had only ever seen vultures in books and movies. I always knew what they were for (or you could say, what they’re about)….but I had never before seen in them in person.
I see them circle in the skies daily. They’ve even sat atop my neighbors roof and watched me mow the lawn. Yes, it’s an eerie feeling. There’s something about them I don’t trust. It seems they watch living things only waiting for one thing: death. Up until about a month ago, this was all I saw from these creatures. Circling. Watching. Waiting. Until about a month ago.
(Just a word of warning: this is typically way more graphic than I’ve been in the past…but trust me, it will help drive home my point later. So if you have a weak stomach, I apologize…but really…it is nature and what God created these animals to do.)
I was driving when I saw to my left in a vacant lot about 20 vultures on a deer carcass. The sight instantly made me nauseated, and I’m pretty sure I was driving with my mouth hanging wide open, as my eyes had never seen anything like this. These birds were not just passively sitting on top of this carcass pecking away. They were tearing.it.apart. They were fighting with one another. I could hear them cawing over the road noise in my car. Not only was the carcass covered in ravenous vultures, but surrounding the perimeter of the area was about 20 more vultures. Watching. Waiting.
I drove by that area three times that day. The first and second times the vultures were still there, picking apart the deer. The third time…only bones remained.
Last week, once again, I saw a similar sight while driving. This time however, the Lord spoke to me through those creatures.
“Are you hanging around death?”
Now that was an intriguing question. Then He drew my attention to the two groups of vultures.
The active ones: the ones who are doing the picking apart. The ones who are feeding off of the death and carnage of another creature.
The watchers: this group tends to be bigger. They hang back. Not actively partaking in the carnage, but they are there, hoping to get a piece of the action.
I heard the question again…but with more…”Are you hanging around death? Do you consume death? Do those around you who claim to know Me hang around and consume death?”
Suddenly my heart was reminded of verses…verses about death and life.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” John 5:24
“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” Romans 5:10
“For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:17
I breathed a prayer of thanks to the Lord for offering us a way out of death. Because of Him…I am truly alive. I don’t have to hang around death because He lives.
But I heard the questions again: “Do you hang around death? Do you consume death?”
Even though I have been saved by His grace, and desire to walk in His righteousness and life…there is still a war in my heart against my flesh and sin nature.
“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:6
“For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Romans 8:13
When I read gossip that mocks others and makes them out to look like fools…I consume death.
When I entertain myself by watching shows that celebrate sin and set my mind on worldly things…I consume death.
And when my heart and my mind have been consuming death…”for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)
The Lord gently reminded me…He has so much better for me. Better ways to spend my time. Better ways to be entertained. Better things to fill my heart. I have been saved from death, by Jesus and His work on the cross. But there are times when I…like a vulture…hang around death. I look for ways to pick people apart and bring them down. I hang around conversations that are not life-giving. I laugh at a joke that is at someone elses expense. I speak harshly to my kids. I look for the negative instead of being thankful and joyful. I can see myself as a vulture who hangs back…not necessarily in on the action, but I’m not opposed to being around.
And to be honest, I feel an urge from the Lord to write this post to do a little “poking”. I’ve been mulling this post over for about a week now and I wanted to be able to take a couple pictures of vultures to include in the post. This morning as I headed out to take the kids to school I prayed “Lord, if you want me to write this, let me see vultures in action this morning to photograph for the post.” The two pictures above were taken this morning. (I also didn’t want the pictures to be too graphic…the Lord answered both requests because He’s cool like that!)
How about you friend? Have you been rescued by Jesus from death to life? Today is a great day to walk into true life with Him. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be perfect. It can still be easy to claim Jesus and hang around the dead things of this fallen world. Are you hanging around death? Perhaps even consuming death? Have a chat with the Holy Spirit, I know He will gently tell you exactly what you need to hear.
This time of fall, there is a lot of celebrating death. You can see it everywhere. I’m easily discouraged when I see Halloween decor because I so want to celebrate life! And I really believe that’s what Jesus wants for us too! He came so that we may have life, and have it abundantly! (John 10:10) So my plan, (and please join me!) is that whenever I see vultures, or Halloween decor…I want to remember the life that Jesus offers me everyday, all day. I want to choose His life-giving wisdom, love, joy, and peace.
“Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
Put away from you crooked speech,
and put devious talk far from you.
Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.
Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil.” Proverbs 4: 23-27
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25