My three little country boys have always loved God’s creation and all of His creatures…great and small. We’ve reared ordinary animals like dogs, goldfish, goats, bunnies, donkeys, and chickens, but we’ve also cared for baby opossums, turkeys, and even an orphaned fawn. It’s not unusual to flip a cup over in our house and find a frog or cicada held hostage or to discover that I’ve washed a pocket full of snails. There have been many nights I’ve been startled by strange noises only to find that the boys have transformed water bottles into terrariums for lizards. There’s no telling how many nights lizards have been mistaken for intruders in our home!
Not only do the boys love to play with creatures and study them, they also enjoy bringing me the treasures they find in the yard like snake skins, locust shells, bones, bird nests, etc. as if they are trophies.
One day, I noticed my oldest kneeling in the yard, completely focused on what was in his hands. I braced myself, knowing whatever he had found would eventually be introduced to me. Finally, he brought me a large, empty wasp nest, but it wasn’t the size or the detail of the nest that fascinated me – it was his nine-year-old wisdom.
“I’ve been thinking, Mama,” he began. “You know how in Genesis the people worked hard to build their own tower? They thought they were smarter than God and all they worried about was how to make the tower bigger and better.”
Surprised that he remembered that lesson we covered at the beginning of the school year last year, I nodded and he continued. “Well, wasps aren’t so different. They have all this space to fly and play, but they choose to focus on their nest. The only thing they care about is how big they can make it and they don’t care where they put it, or who they have to hurt to keep it safe. But the funny thing is…all it takes is a stronger person to spray them and confuse them or to crush what they worked hard to make. Just like the tower of Babel, huh?”
Amazed at his illustration, I couldn’t help but feel the conviction of times in my life when I have been no different from the wasps or the people building the tower of Babel.
In Genesis 9:7, God blessed Noah and his sons, told them of His plans of provision and protection, and then commanded them to separate and replenish the earth. However, Genesis 11:2 tells us that as the people moved eastward they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.
Oh, how many times I have been guilty of settling! As I reflect on my younger days, I know without a doubt I felt “smarter than God.” For instance, I settled on what college I would attend, some of the friends I chose, my college major and many other things. Because I settled out of fear, intimidation, impatience, complacency- whatever the cause, I shorted myself of God’s blessings and the big plans He had in store for my life that I didn’t take the time to inquire about.
But not only am I guilty of settling in the past, I have certainly made my own plans just like Noah’s descendants. How quickly they forgot the great flood Noah had been rescued from and the covenant God had made with them. Genesis 11 records that after they settled, they made their own plans to stay together and build their own city. They were acting in direct disobedience to scatter and make a name for a most holy God. Instead, they purposed in their hearts to make a name for themselves and build a tower to worship the heavens rather than the Designer of the heavens.
This act of pride and defiance angered God, moving Him to prove to them that His will would still stand. Genesis 11 also tells us that God came down to meet them in their mess. He confused their language, halted their progress, and scattered them throughout the earth, just as He had first instructed.
I can think back to countless instances in our young married life of how we settled just like these people. We were aware of God’s available blessings, but because we thought we could handle things on our own and we were so confident in our own provision, we deliberately made our own plans instead of trusting God. Like the wasps, we tirelessly worked and stressed ourselves out building a home “our way” - never stopping to ask for direction or remembering God’s promises to us. The more we worked, the more we spun our wheels. Until one day, it took “someone stronger” to confuse us and crush our plans.
God disciplined us just as He did Noah’s descendants. Due to our own stubbornness, He caused our thoughts to be confused and our hearts to be divided. We missed numerous blessings and opportunities, hurt each other, made costly decisions, careless errors, and even suffered loss and regret. Our home was nearly crushed…but then came grace.
We, like the babblers of the tower of Babel, had to learn the hard way that it is always better to have a submissive spirit and listen to God. No matter how creative our “customized” plans seem, how tall we can build our possessions, and how great we can make our name, God’s name will eternally be greater and His plans will perpetually prevail.
Although I don’t prefer to keep many souvenirs from nature my kids proudly bring inside, we did decide to keep that nest. I hope it will be a teaching tool and serve as a sweet reminder for our plans to revolve around the Father who loves us and cares enough to lead us into the paths of righteousness. May our children learn early that above all of the voices we hear that give sound advice, we should only adhere to the ONE who gives us solid direction. It’s never too late to begin listening!
Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.