I have a bit of a unique history with that most loathsome of Southern fowl known as the buzzard. On at least three occasions they and I have intersected in unique ways.
There was the time that several of them were flying over the valley by my house, thereby inspiring me to lay on the ground and moan like a dying creature. The result was hysterical as one of them flew right over me and, when I looked up and we locked eyes, he got a look on his face that seemed to say, "Rats! He's going to live."
Then there was the time that we showed up on a Sunday morning to find a buzzard perched on our church steeple. That absolutely creeped me out, and I threw a rock at it to chase away.
But the buzzard episode that I am currently reminiscing upon involved a carcass, several buzzards, our minivan and the law of sowing and reaping.
On this particular day, we were driving down a country road at the posted speed of 55 mph when up ahead I observed several buzzards right on the side of the road, eating some unfortunate dead thing. I pointed it out to my wife, and said, "If those buzzards decide to fly..."
I got about halfway through the word "fly" when it happened. One of those dumb birds, apparently hearing the vehicle coming, decided to fly to some other location. But in so doing he flew right in front of my minivan windshield and "Splat!"
When I finally got control of things, I looked in the rearview mirror and beheld the most amazing site. You would think that these buzzards, obviously lifelong buddies, would be in a state of mourning over their fallen comrade.
You would be wrong. Those buzzards clearly had one thing in mind: extra lunch. Some of them peeled off the original carcass and immediately set to work on this new and exciting food source.
There is an amazing spiritual lesson in all of that. These creatures are in the habit of waiting for things to be injured and die so that they can devour them. They are not happy unless they are about that particular macabre business. But creatures of that nature are not very particular. In one moment they can be eating something else with you, and the very next moment they can be eating you.
In that they are much like people. Galatians 5:15 says: "But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another." That is an amazing verse. If people are in the habit of biting and devouring others, they must always be at constant alert because those that they are devouring others with will, at some point, most certainly turn on them.
This being the case, it makes far more spiritual sense not to hang out with buzzards. There are many things in life we do not have a choice in. We do not get to choose what gender we are born, or what our eye color is, or how tall we will be, or what nationality we will be. But one of the things we do get to choose is our circle of friends. Be wise in that choice. It may seem thrilling and exciting to choose a crowd of friends that are in the habit of devouring people, but the result of that choice may be that you one day end up on the menu.
Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, N.C., and the author of several books.