August 27, 2014

I lift up my eyes to hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm—He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121

Drones have invaded the national park system!

Despite National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis’s edict that all parks take steps to prohibit the use of unmanned aircraft, someone let his or her radio-controlled drone drop into Yellowstone’s Grand Prismatic hot spring. The brilliantly-colored body of water is the third-largest hot spring in the world, 370 feet in diameter and more than 121 feet deep.

Apparently, the person flying the drone approached a park employee about retrieving his property; the employee unthinkingly let the tourist go. Yet the aircraft still remains in the drink—the latest news indicates park officials haven’t yet spotted it nor decided whether to even retrieve it.

This is not the first drone intrusion into the parks—the Chicago Tribune notes that earlier this summer, one crashed into a marina at Yellowstone Lake, and Grand Teton National Park has seen several violations of its ban.

“Recreational” drones are usually used to take personal videos and photos, but increasingly, we hear about their role in surveillance and warfare (read more than you’ll ever want to know about them here). How our government and military deploys them is a subject for elsewhere, but the National Park Service is concerned about public safety, protection of wildlife and natural features, and disruption of the parks’ tranquility. Arches, Canyonlands, Grand Canyon and Zion National Parks now ban drones, and an interim rule by the National Park Service prohibits launching, landing or operating unmanned aircraft from or on Appalachian National Scenic Trail lands. I expect we’ll be seeing a more extensive prohibition on them very soon.

A drone’s “eyes” record and report. The results can be used for good—or sometimes not, especially if it intrudes on someone’s right to privacy. That makes me think of two pieces of music—The Cadillacs’ light-hearted oldie, “Peek-a-Boo” (“Peek-a-boo, I’m watchin’ you”), and The Police’s driving “Every Breath You Take,” which I call the Stalker Song (“Every move you make, every vow you break, every smile you fake, every claim you stake, I’ll be watching you”).

But the all-seeing drones also remind me that there is an all-seeing God, one that never gets lost, never stops functioning, and never needs repair or downtime. He watches over each and every life, from beginning to end, something our minds just can’t grasp.

But He isn’t a stalker out to harm us. Do you remember this little ditty from Sunday School:

Oh be careful little eyes what you see,

Oh be careful little eyes what you see.

For the Father up above

Is looking down in love;

Oh be careful little eyes what you see.


Oh be careful little ears what you hear…

Oh be careful little hands what you do…

Oh be careful little feet where you go…

Oh be careful little mouth what you say…

One day we will have to face all we’ve let into our hearts and our heads, all we’ve said, and all we’ve done: “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13; see also Matthew 12:36, 37 and 25:14-30).

But the God of judgment who looks down in love has taken it upon Himself—literally, through the death and resurrection of His Son—to cover each thought, word and action of ours that’s contrary to His ways: “We have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1, 2; see also John 3:17; Romans 8:1, 2).

It is those caring, devoted, sympathetic eyes that “range through the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9). So look up—perhaps you’ll see a drone (hopefully not in the parks). But you’ll always find the One who’s watching over His beloved (Romans 9:25; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; 1 John 3:1, 2; Jude 1).

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