One of the eeriest sights I’ve ever witnessed occurred on our property a few years ago. As my husband and I began our daily routine of feeding and watering the animals we spotted some movement above us. When we stopped to take a better look at the sky we were shocked to see what looked like 100 buzzards circling slowly over our field.
Anyone who lives in the country knows that buzzards are a common sight. However, seeing such a large number of them in one spot was like a neon sign that we couldn’t ignore. We stopped what we were doing and immediately began to look for a dead animal. Every inch of our place was searched without finding anything resembling buzzard food. I couldn’t help asking my husband at this point if he was feeling alright. As we laughed about the possibility that one of us might be the object of the buzzards’ attention, something strange happened.
One of our baby lambs suddenly went into convulsions. Without showing any previous signs of sickness, it was dead within two hours. It’s common knowledge that vultures survive on rotting flesh. The mystery was why they were gathering above an animal that was still romping around in the field. How did they know he was going to die?
In an attempt to answer this question I began researching buzzards. This is what I discovered. The scientific name for black vulture is cathartes atratus meaning “a purifier dressed in mourning, as for a funeral”. These ‘ever-ready eaters of the dead’ are scavengers with a keen sense of sight and smell, which enables them to recognize an easy mark. They sightsee from a good vantage point until the potential meal is spotted. By finding warm currents of air that rise off the ground they are able to glide effortlessly while they scout the ground below. When one bird is seen riding a thermal, others soon join in. Together they circle above an unprotected creature that is too weak to stand on its own, and patiently wait for the animal to die.
Unable to shake the image of those buzzards, and the sudden death of a seemingly healthy animal, I deduced some truths that brought me around to a point of revelation.
Things are not always as they appear. For instance, fatal illness is not always noticeable by someone’s outward appearance. We can easily overlook the indirect signs of death by assuming that illness will always be obvious. In reality, the human body is attacked by a variety of unseen things that can, and often do, kill.
The fact that something is not visible doesn’t make it any less real.
There is more to us (humans) than meets the eye; that is, what you see of you is not all there is of you. Only 1/3 of you is visible.
We are spiritual creations temporarily housed in a physical body.
The human soul is attacked by unseen things. Spiritual attacks are most effective against those who are weak.
Spiritual strength, like physical strength, is expended and must be renewed regularly. Those who do not receive regular sustenance become weak and may die.
Signs of impending death are evident to those who know what to look for.
There are always unseen buzzards circling above us looking for easy prey.
They too can smell impending death and quickly follow the scent.
These scavengers are dressed and ready to devour those were too weak to fight.
If we could see these eaters of the dead hovering overhead we would began a thorough search for whatever may be dying in us. I doubt if we would ignore the true state of our spiritual life then. We would take notice of bad attitudes and wrong behavior, making changes as quickly as we can. We would be eager to do whatever we should to get back in line with what is right.
There are people who choose not to think about these things. Many people choose not to believe in them at all. Nevertheless, the bible warns us about them for a very good reason—our spiritual life may depend on it. The book of Ephesians clearly states that we are in a battle against powerful unseen forces that are out to destroy as many of us as they can. It would be wise to know our enemies and their strategies so we can fight effectively against them. It would also be to our benefit to know ourselves at least as well as they know us.
Each of us had better tremble and turn from our wrongdoing; silently searching our hearts as we lie in bed. (Psalm 4:4)