The largest flamingo preserve in the Americas, with up to 45,000 birds, is located on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. It is just north of Cancun and east of our Mayan brethren at Tizimin, Mexico. Felipe Mukul, the native preacher who has worked with Northwest since 1985, once took Darlene and I on a tour of the nesting area of these large colorful birds. It was a veritable explosion of pink. Surprisingly these birds are mostly white until they start feasting on the shrimp of the shallow sea pools. The more shrimp they eat, the pinker the feathers. We saw lots of black feathers and were told that these grew under the huge wings. Flamingos have long, skinny legs and webbed feet. They often balance on one leg tucking the other up into their abdomen presumably to conserve heat. They have long curved beaks for fishing while the head is completely submerged.

There seem to be several similarities between the flamingo and the Christian. Except for the beautiful pink color, the flamingo is basically an ugly, awkward looking animal. God, however, looks at them and all his creation as, “good.” (Gen 1:20-21) And when he created man and woman he pronounced them, “very good.” (Gen 1: 26-31) Adam and Eve were probably very attractive physically, but God looks much deeper, on the heart. He looks at that inner person, the soul (1 Sam 16:7). Jesus Christ was not a handsome man (Is 53:2). Even the most attractive man or woman has a short shelf-life to be handsome or beautiful (2 Cor 4:16). As God looks at Christians he should see the inward person being renewed day by day. As the flamingo turns more pink with more shrimp, we should glow more and more beautiful in God’s sight as we take in more and more teaching from the Godhead (Eph 3:16) (Php 2:15).

As the flamingo submerges his whole head under water searching for the life-sustaining shrimp, we ought to eagerly search the scriptures intently (1Pe 1:10) (1 Pe 2:2). Baby flamingos must be taught very early where and how to get their shrimp. Likewise new babes in Christ need to grow up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (Eph 6:4)

—Jim Bailey