We say YES! in the confident expectation of God’s glory.
Dear Woodland Hills Family,
These days I am enjoying the spring migration of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. There’s a lot we don’t know about these birds, but here are just some of the amazing things we have discovered:
- An adult Ruby-throated Hummingbird weighs 3.25 grams (.115 of an ounce). This is what a half-teaspoon of salt weighs. Or 3 small paperclips. A first-class U.S postage stamp is good for mailing 8.69 hummingbirds.
- Rubies have one of the highest metabolic rates of any animal, with heart rates up to 1260 beats per minute and a breathing rate of about 250 breaths per minute even at rest. I don’t know who did the counting or how.
- “Rubies” winter in Central America. As the adult is preparing to migrate north to the U.S. it really bulks up and will nearly double its weight to just over 6 grams. But the non-stop flight across the Gulf of Mexico depletes it severely and it may weigh only 2.5 grams upon arrival somewhere between central Florida and southern Texas.
- The trip over the Gulf of Mexico takes 18-22 hours depending on weather. The birds depart at dusk and fly all night, which begs the question, How do they know where they’re going?
- Rubies migrate individually, not in flocks, so they’re not getting directions from the others. Some start early and others start late, so the entire migration is spread over a three-month period. But each individual Ruby has its own schedule and departs and arrives at almost exactly the same time every year–within a day or two, returning to the same place it hatched, even visiting the same feeders.
- Once they make it to the northern U.S. the breeding begins. The female makes a nest the size of a walnut shell. She steals spider web material to hold it together, and dines on “borrowed” insects the spider had trapped. She’ll lay two eggs the size of peas and in 12 days they’ll hatch. After 3 weeks in the nest the young hatchlings are ready to be on their own. They get 2 weeks of instruction from Mom on how and where to find food. Then she chases them off.
- Her young don’t know what’s next, only that each has an insatiable desire to put on weight. There’s no memory of past migrations, but something inside tells it to fly in a particular direction for a certain amount of time.
- For some reason, it is less likely to cross the Gulf in the fall, preferring the Texas coast instead on its way “back” to Panama–where it has never been. In the spring it will decide instead to come north across the Gulf. And will probably retrace this route every year of its life.
- We have more questions than answers about hummingbird migration. For now we don’t have the technology to put a small enough radio transmitter on a 3-gram hummingbird that will still allow it to fly, so we have to band the birds. Catching, banding, and releasing Rubies is slow and the odds of recapturing a banded bird are understandably very low.
So what do Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have to do with “the confident expectation of God’s glory”?
I believe I see in the Ruby God’s twice-veiled glory. Here’s what I mean:
God’s glory is first of all veiled in the Ruby because she only reflects His glory. The invisible God who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has or can see, has chosen to let her reflect some of His majesty, wisdom, knowledge, and unfathomable ways. So I wonder: What glory must be His, which she only partially reflects?
Secondly, God’s glory is veiled in the Ruby, to a great extent, by her groaning under a disfigured and diseased creation. It’s unfair to her, but she bears the curse of our sin. As such she can only show us a faint outline of His glory. Even so, I marvel at her. She is impressive in every way. Imagine, then, what she will show us when she is set free from her slavery to corruption into the freedom of God’s glory! (Rom 8:20, ff.)
Because we have been declared righteous in Christ, we have the “confident expectation that we shall see God’s glory” without a veil! We’ll see His glory as He intended through a liberated creation. Better yet, no longer will we see Him only reflected by His creation–we’ll see His face with our own eyes! (Rev 22:4-5)
To that I say YESSSS!
I think “YESSSS!” gives an accurate, contemporary sense of the Greek word translated exult, boast, rejoice in Romans 5:2.