Migration in Nature and God’s Call to Us

It’s fall in Minnesota and that means the Canadian geese are migrating. Every day I see them flying overhead on their way to their winter habitat.

"Migration and Calling" with image of a flock of Canada geese in V formation at sunrise

It symbolizes a change in season and is something embedded in the biology of migratory animals.

I look forward to seeing them fly over every year both in the spring and in the fall, landing on local lakes.

In the fall I usually also notice the new chill in the air. In the spring, seeing the geese brings hope that winter is almost over and the warm sun will soon melt the Minnesota snow into spring. 

The Migration Phenomenon

There are so many variables that go into migration that show how complex and amazing creation is! From the complex migratory patterns to the strength and perseverance these animals display on these long, arduous journeys.

a whale breaches out of the ocean
Blue whales and humpbacks are among migratory sea life (Photo by Thomas Kelley on Unsplash)

These patterns aren’t something the animals think about consciously. They don’t decide every year when to leave, what route to take, or why they’re going. It’s an innate and precise calling that continues through generations of species.

Their actions aren’t random but rather God intentionally designed them with these intrinsic callings built into their genetic codes.

And God has planned for these animals to be provided for as they migrate. Often their migratory timing and paths coincide with advantageous resources such as favorable weather and food sources.

They find the resources needed for different life stages and activities of an organism in completely different locations. The migrating animals know none of these details as they interact with their various ecosystems! 

two Canada geese on grass
A pair of Canada geese (photo by Sharon Brodin)

If you live in another region of the world as you read this, there may be other animals whose migration and transition marks a season.

Other examples are that of monarch butterflies, blue whales, and salmon. There are examples of migratory animals of all shapes and sizes and in all locations. 

How God Can Speak to Us Through Animal Migration

One of my favorite things about nature is that God often writes into it parallels that display His character and goodness. We see those same characteristics of God present in our lives and spiritual journeys, too.

This is true for the topic of migration.

I’m thankful God tells parables and stories through nature. He uses these gentle parallels to speak to us continually about living a faith-filled life. 

monarch butterfly on some flowers
It’s astonishing that something as delicate as a monarch butterfly can migrate hundreds of miles! (photo by Sharon Brodin)

I see in each of these migratory species a unique journey God designed them to undergo. It’s written into their genetics.

For our spiritual walks, I would compare that to our characteristics, calling, and the journeys we have written into our spiritual DNA by God. He uniquely designed each of us to bring beauty and purpose to the world around us. 

A Couple of Epic Biblical Journeys

In thinking about stories of faith that describe this, I thought about Abraham and Rebekah. Not only did they spiritually have a very specific journey that God asked them to say yes to, but they also physically migrated—much like the examples from nature listed above. 

Abraham heard the voice of God calling him to seek new lands and to create a place for his people to continue to grow and experience God. This journey laid the groundwork for the Jewish people and the genealogy of Christ. 

Rebekah was offered a huge life-changing decision, with not much time to think about it. She said yes to the journey God had for her that resulted in a move far from her family and everything she had known. 

I believe they both had personality traits and characteristics God had given them that allowed them to say yes to those journeys. And allowed them to have the skills and strengths they needed to be successful.

green darner dragonfly/photo by Mark Chappell
Did you know even some dragonflies migrate? The green darner dragonfly has a fascinating story (photo by Mark Chappell)

Just like God has placed into monarch butterflies and Canada geese the strength to fly hundreds of miles at a time! 

Our Yes to God Blesses Others

When we say yes to the things God has built into us, it brings life to others around us as well.

Another fall tradition that accompanies the migration of salmon is the preparation for hibernation grizzly bears go through. They feed on salmon as the fish run through specific, historic feeding grounds on their way to spawn.

This has been happening for generations. The salmon migrate upstream, and the bears feed on them in preparation for hibernation. This is a picture of nature working together for the greater health and balance of ecosystems.

three brown bears wait for salmon to leap upstream
Brown bears wait for “flying” salmon to jump upstream (Photo by Pradeep Nayak on Unsplash)

When we say yes to the journeys built into our spiritual DNA, it brings life to us and to those around us. It’s a testimony of the goodness and grace of the God we follow. 

When I think about my life, I see ways that God has woven together a story from things that made no sense at the time—just like a Canada goose flying south one day wouldn’t make sense outside of the greater story of its life.

Whether it be relationships or jobs, God has continued to be that internal guiding force pointing my life towards a migration homeward, closer every day to the Creator. 

Questions for Reflection

Are there any stories in the Bible of God using someone’s natural gifts and strengths that speak specifically to you? 

When you think of your spiritual DNA and the journey you’re on, what comes to mind? 

As you spend time in silent reflection and prayer about this, what’s the Holy Spirit saying to you about how you’re made and how this topic interacts with your story? 

FOR FUN: If you’re interested in watching this happen in real-time, tune into Katmai National Park’s Fat Bear Week every October to see the salmon run and the bears eat! Vote for the fattest bear!

Here’s more…

Emilie O'Connor