Monday, April 1, 2024

Devotionals for the Heart: What watching an owl taught me about God

Matching My Gaze with God
A devotional by Jessica Brodie

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
—Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

His eyes were round, dark, and incredibly fierce as he perched upon his trainer’s gloved arm, eyeing the crowd for any hint of danger. An adult barred owl, he’d been rescued and raised by humans since his youth. Still, while accustomed to humans, he was by no means tame. One quick move might send him soaring into the trees for refuge.

I watched the owl as the trainer spoke, telling us about his habits and ways, and I noticed something striking. As she turned her body to face one section of the crowd, the owl would swivel his head in tandem, matching the trainer’s gaze. Then, when she’d pivot to the other side, he’d do the same, checking to follow her field of view, to see what she was seeing. Every so often, if she was still for a time, he’d swivel his head and gaze directly at his trainer’s face, looking carefully as if seeking guidance or making sure everything was safe.

They reminded me of a ballerina and her partner, dancing in perfect synchronization—every movement, every breath, every step in coordination.

As I watched, it occurred to me that this owl and his trainer represent our ideal walk with the Lord. As Christians, we are God’s children and part of his heavenly family. God is our Heavenly Father and our leader. We are supposed to move in harmony with him. Colossians 1:18 tells us Christ is the head, and the church is his body. In John 15:5 (NIV), Jesus says much the same: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

But sometimes, we fight God instead of working with him or following his commands. We heed our own wishes and desires, not his. We set our sights on selfish pleasures and worldly distractions. And slowly, we begin to drift out of alignment with our Creator. We miss a step in the dance, and then another, and soon we find we’re dancing to our own song. When this happens, chaos begins. Evil gains a foothold. Temptations threaten. Discontentment brews.

God wants us to get back into alignment with Him. But He gives us free will—we must choose to follow His way. We must choose the “Jesus way” over the world’s way. But make no mistake: Only the way of Jesus Christ leads to life eternal. We serve a God of love. As 1 John 4:19 tells us, “We love because he first loved us.” Jesus said that if we love Him, we’ll follow Him. We’ll do as He asks and obey His teachings. As Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commands.”

Keeping Christ’s commands means walking in alignment with Him, matching our gaze with His, and setting our heart upon the things He cares about. Proverbs 4:20-27 urges, “My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

As children of the living God who reigns forever, let’s take a lesson from that barred owl. Let’s match our gaze to our Ultimate Protector, the Lord. And when we get off track or grow uncertain, let’s look to Him for clarity and direction. Amen. Thanks be to God!

Let’s Pray: Lord, this world can be incredibly confusing. So many lies and whispers tempt me and distract me from your truth. Help me align my steps with yours, match my gaze to yours, and walk in your ways and in your will forevermore as a powerful act of love and obedience. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Fix My Eyes” by for KING + COUNTRY. Listen to it here.

Author Bio:

Jessica Brodie is an award-winning journalist, author, blogger, editor, writing coach, and devotional writer with thousands of articles to her name. 

Since 2010, she has served as the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism, which has won 123 journalism awards during her tenure. Her latest book is Preparing Our Hearts: An Advent Devotional to Draw Closer to God at Christmas.

She has won more than 100 writing awards. Jessica is a seasoned speaker and frequent contributor to,, and, among many others. She has a weekly faith blog at and is part of the team at Wholly Loved Ministries, with her work included in many of their devotionals and Bible studies. Jessica also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed.

Jessica holds a Master of Arts in English. She graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in communications/print journalism from Florida International University. Born and raised in Miami, Jessica now lives in Lexington, South Carolina, just outside Columbia. She has also lived in Ohio and in the mountains of western North Carolina. She and her husband, Matt Brodie, have a blended family of four teenage children and stepchildren.

Jessica has written several novels and is actively seeking publication through her agent Bob Hostetler of The Steve Laube Agency. Her novel The Memory Garden won the 2018 Genesis contest for Contemporary Fiction from American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and her novel Tangled Roots won a third place Foundation Award in Contemporary Romance at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in 2019. She is finishing the third in the series, Hidden Seeds, now.

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