Every Living Thing – Dr Lynda Shaw

Wisdom from God’s creatures, in their vast array


From Luke’s Journal May 2023  |  Vol.28 No.2  |  Unity in Diversity 

Image Swiss Media Vision, iStock

“So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:21 NIV)

God’s creativity and power are on full display here. With His word, He imagines, designs, and knits together an inconceivable array of swimming, walking, flying and crawling organisms. Immense diversity throughout the animal kingdom – currently 1.5 million species have been so far been described, with up to 8 million estimated species in total 1 – with each individual inhabiting their own unique phenotype, place and purpose.

And yet, as God brings order out of chaos, He creates each according to their kinds, and places man in a privileged position as caretaker over them all. In this role, as patterns and consistencies are observed, we have classified animals into class, order, family, genus, species.

This edition on Unity in Diversity is an opportunity to dwell on some of the wisdom we, the caretakers, can gain from God’s creatures, in their vast array.

A desire for diversity and variety was a key driver in my pursuing a career in veterinary science, and it’s a desire that has been fulfilled time and again.

“…my work days have included: a swan with botulism, a constipated bearded dragon with necrotic tongue tip (following a battle with a feisty cricket who wasn’t going down without a fight), enucleation on a rabbit with a ruptured globe…”

As a sample, my work days have included: a swan with botulism, a constipated bearded dragon with necrotic tongue tip (following a battle with a feisty cricket who wasn’t going down without a fight), enucleation on a rabbit with a ruptured globe, a Children’s python with sepsis, along with many cats and dogs, ranging from pampered ‘fur-children’ to the neglected and abused.

But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.” (Job 12:7-10 ESV)

As a Christian veterinarian, I’ve been humbled time and again by the thought of how God uses his creatures to teach us.

Starting in first year anatomy, when an atheist in my group looked into the abdomen of the greyhound we were dissecting and exclaimed, “I don’t know how anyone could believe in a god when they look at this mess!” To me, I could only see evidence of the great design and wisdom with which He had placed the different organ systems in their positions, each working on their individual tasks, as well as relying on and contributing to the proper function of the others.

The same Hand who created all of this, firmly holds us too. Even when our lives can seem messy and random, it helps to remember God can create order out of apparent chaos.

“Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths” (Psalm 148:7-12 NIV)

In the amazing diversity that’s present in God’s creation, I’m reminded of some of His various characteristics.

  • God’s sense of humour is clear in dolphins who ‘giggle’ when they are playing, rats who love to be tickled, the highly entertaining mating dance of the superb bird of paradise, and in Japanese macaques who have snowball fights just for the fun of it.  God enjoys his creation (Psalm 104:31b NIV), and it’s clear He wants to share His enjoyment and delight with us.
  • You can see a God who values community in geese, who fly in V-formation, without which they would not be capable of flying such long distances (the Canadian goose can fly up to 2400 km in 24 hours); or honey bees serving their purpose through various roles working to serve the larger community to ensure survival; or in squirrels whose glorious bushy tails will flick to communicate danger to their conspecifics.
  • A powerful Creator creating powerful animals: the African bush elephant who is able to lift up to 350 kg with it’s boneless trunk; the harpy eagle with a grip strength of 530 psi – (I’m no expert in psi, but let’s just say I won’t be ‘shaking hands’ with one anytime soon); the 30 metre long blue whale, weighing a cool 150 tons and with a heart the size of a Harley Davidson.
  • There are endless examples of God’s genius in creation: blue whale vocalisations can travel up to 800 km underwater in good conditions, with distinctive ‘dialects’ in different geographic regions; symbiotic relationships such as that between anemone and clownfish, trading protection from predators for parasite control and nourishment; yaks with specific adaptations such as massive lung capacity and smaller, more efficient red blood cells to enable survival in the Himalayas, 4000-6000 metres above sea level.

God’s creatures, in all their heterogeneity, never cease to inspire awe and reverence to their Maker. And God in His wisdom loves to use His creatures to remind us of how He rules over and cares for us all.

All creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things.” (Psalm 104:27-28 NIV)

Image Mariya, Pexels

The stork, the dove, the swift and the thrush obey the instincts which are their natural law (Jeremiah 8:7), yet through Jeremiah, God yearns for His people to obey the laws he has laid down. Ravens have no storeroom or barn and yet God provides for their needs, these birds who are not as valuable to God as His children (Luke 12:24). Animals join us in suffering in this fallen creation, yet also wait in eager expectation of their liberation (Rom 8:20-21).

“And he has raised up for his people a horn, the praise of all his faithful servants, of Israel, the people close to his heart.”    (Psalm 148:14  NIV)

Perhaps, though, one of the greatest lessons we can learn through God’s animals can be found where we are most differentiated from them.

We, unlike them, are given that beautiful title of Imago Dei. It was for humans that God sent His own Son – the Sacrificial Lamb and Victorious Lion – into the world so that salvation and freedom are ours for the taking.

This thought inspires me to join in with that massive, breathtaking choir in Psalm 148; sea creatures, wild animals, cattle, flying birds, kings, princes, men, women and children, all singing in one voice. Praise the Lord!

Dr Lynda Shaw
Dr Lynda Shaw is a Veterinarian working at a private small animal veterinary hospital in Newcastle. She gained a Bachelor of Veterinary Science (Hons 1), along with a previous Bachelor of Science  majoring in Molecular Biology and Genetics, from the University of Sydney. She is made in the image of God and, surprisingly, has only one cat.


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  1. Costello MJ, May RM, Stork NE. Can We Name Earth’s Species Before They Go Extinct? Science. 2013 Jan;339(6118): 413-416. Available from: https://www.science.org/doi/abs/10.1126/science.1230318