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Last evening, my family and I went to a Japanese restaurant for dinner. We love sitting at the hibachi grill, watching the chef show off his skills with the knives and food. My eight year old son especially loves when they make a large flame on the grill flare up, causing everyone at the table to instantly cease all conversation and lean back wide eyed out of the way of the fire in momentary alarm.
The centerpiece of the lobby is a large salt-water fish tank that’s obviously well tended. The glass is crystal clear and the lighting showcases the different colors of the fish. As I stood there admiring the watery scene, watching the seemingly happy fish swim about, it occurred to me that there is absolutely no reason whatsoever for those fish to be colored so brilliantly.
Not only were these creatures unbelievably vibrant, but every single fish was marked distinctly as if an artist had sat down and decided what color and pattern to paint each one. I don’t know if you’ve ever taken the time to really look at a salt-water tank and its inhabitants, so I’ll attempt to describe just one of these gorgeous animals.
Swimming around was a common Imperator Angelfish which was approximately 7 inches in length and looked plump and healthy. It’s snout from right below the eyes was whitish in color. There was a midnight blue stripe running across its eyes which made the fish look as if it were wearing sunglasses. Above this, the blue gave way to a thin light blue outline and from there, started to change into a lovely yellow. The gills and side fins, as well as the fin running along the belly, was also midnight blue. The main body portion exhibited approximately twenty-five alternating thin teal and yellow stripes running parallel with the fish’s length. Along the spine was another thin yellow line which ended up in a yellow-orange color for the tail.
These colors were not muddy and dull, but vibrant, neon and startling. It was not the special lighting which produced this effect. I’ve seen salt-water fish while snorkeling in the Caribbean and they are nearly as brilliant in their natural setting.
There’s no attempt to camouflage these animals to fade into the colors of the sand and surrounding coral to protect them from predators. In fact, they stick out like a sore thumb! There are larger fish that would look at this Angelfish as dinner, so there's no advantage for it be so adorned. So why are they colored so exquisitely?
You know, I could ask the same question about tree leaves in the autumn.
The leaves are where nourishment for the tree is manufactured thru photosynthesis. Sunlight, water and chlorophyll work together to accomplish this. As summer ends and the days get shorter and cooler, the amount of sunlight and water begins to subside making it more difficult for photosynthesis to occur. As the chlorophyll content diminishes, so does the green hue and that’s when we begin to see all the various colors emerge. These pigments have been present in the leaves in small amounts all along, but the green chlorophyll masks them.
So, again, why? Why would those fish be so beautiful? Why aren’t they colored to blend in with their surroundings, thus affording them greater protection from enemies? Why do the leaves bother turning colors? It’s of no advantage to them to do so. They don’t produce extra nourishment or energy in the process. In fact, it seems to be a complete waste of time. Neither example fits into the common theories of adaptation and survival-of-the-fittest.
The only logical explanation I can come up with is simply that our Creator God knew we would be delighted when we saw them. It’s his pleasure to spoil and please his children, just as we as parents get joy from surprising our own kids with more than they were hoping to receive.
That new bike isn’t simply a ten speed; it’s the candy apple red your son really wanted. The pretty dress your daughter wanted for the prom isn’t just the cut and color she wished for, but it also has unexpected sparkling accents that makes it even more special.
When we go out of our way to exceed our children’s expectations, which often involves more time and expense on our part, we do so for the thrill of seeing their faces light up in surprise, gratitude and excitement. Our Heavenly Father does the same thing simply out of his love for us.
He didn’t have to make the fish or autumn leaves appear so breathtaking. He did so because he wanted to make this earth just a little more beautiful and enjoyable for his children. Doesn’t it make sense that he must also get great satisfaction when we pause, recognize and thank him for his generosity and attention to detail, which he lovingly offers, purely for our pleasure?
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