While heading out for my morning walk one day last week, I heard a rapid knocking sound. Looking up, I saw a woodpecker hopping around on a power pole. Since my walking buddy wasn’t out yet, I stopped for a minute to just watch the bird. I heard another knocking sound and noticed another woodpecker on yet another pole. As my eyes meandered up and down the street I saw no fewer than eight woodpeckers scattered across five power poles.
I was fascinated as I watched them. They would move up and down the wood of the pole, placing their heads against the pole as if listening. Then they would come to metal. It didn’t matter what the metal was, but every single bird ended up on metal as if magnetically drawn to it. They would press their heads against the metal and immediately begin pecking. The sound and feel of the metal would startle them, leaving them dazed and disoriented for a few moments. They would move on to the wood again, but inevitably they all came back to the metal. The process was repeated over and over for several minutes until they finally gave up and flew away, almost all at the same time.
The birds were very quick to discern that the solid wood of the power poles held no delicious breakfast for them. But, the buzzing of electricity in the various pieces of metal deceived them. They were each sure they had found a treasure trove of delectable food! Instead, they were knocked a bit senseless and left with no reward for their patient effort.
They were looking in the wrong place expending time and energy in a futile search for what they needed.
I wonder how often we’re like those woodpeckers. There are some sources of spiritual nutrition that seem so very promising. They look right and smell right. They even respond to our initial inquiries in the appropriate manner. But, then just as we think we’re hitting the jackpot of spiritual nourishment, we’re thrown back in confusion and uncertainty. We discover that what we thought was right and true and good was in fact far from it. We’ve invested so much time and energy into this source, though, that we can’t just fly away. We have to keep searching, just in case we missed something. Finally, we move on in search of real truth, that much hungrier; that much more exhausted in our search.
The beautiful thing is that, unlike woodpeckers, we have everything we need to avoid those deceptive power poles. We have the Word of God. We have the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We have personal access to the source of all of our nourishment. Sure, we’ll come across those power poles: churches that offer just enough of Scriptural truth to draw us in; books that sound good on the surface; even friends who have very logical answers to our spiritual questions. But, instead of working ourselves to the bone trying to glean empty nourishment from these deceptive sources, we can go straight to the true Source and seek perfect discernment.
May we immerse ourselves in the Bible and the Spirit. May we glean discernment from God the way He intended. And in doing so, may we be perfectly led away from the deceptive power poles to the beautiful, nourishing trees of God.