Busy as a Bee

beesA favorite aspect of sitting on my deck in summertime involves watching & listening to all the creatures. Squirrels play in trees, sometimes rather aggressively. Birds chatter, often quite loudly. (Crows make A LOT of noise.) And of course, lots of bugs doing what bugs do.

Probably the most attention-getting are the bumblebees. Buzzing alerts me to their presence, and I like to know when bees are nearby. But for the most part, we leave each other alone.

Bees fascinate me. Not only are they an impossibility (at least according to scientists), they focus on their work with undaunting devotion. While they like all my flowers, they especially like my lavender and lilac bushes.

Bees do what they do because of instinct, and I believe this instinct exists in humans too. The difference is that we can choose to ignore it, and bees cannot. With this in mind, consider that perhaps “busy as a bee” might get at Paul’s intent when he instructs us to “walk in” the good works “God prepared in advance” for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

Follow my logic here. If God planned or prepared good works for us to complete long before we were even conceived, wouldn’t that make those good works sort of instinctive?

Now I realize this doesn’t mean we are preprogrammed like bees to complete every detail of our lives. God certainly doesn’t want robots. However, His Word along with our individual gifts, talents and interests certainly go a long way in providing a natural inclination as to where we should focus.

God planned “good works” for us to accomplish, and He planned them “long ago,” and we are to simply – perhaps somewhat instinctively – “walk in” them (Ephesians 2:10). Why don’t we then?

Maybe we over-think what we are to do (I know I do anyway), wishing God would be more specific. Maybe we get distracted by money, status or success. Maybe we’re afraid, perhaps of failure or even of success.

Bees get distracted too, I’ve noticed. Oddly, they usually get distracted by us. Seems like they think we’re flowers sometimes, but we also sometimes disrupt their work (intentionally and unintentionally). Even when they do get distracted, bees fairly quickly return to their work (purpose), not deterred for long.

In my almost daily observations of bees, three life lessons come to mind.

Busy Bee Lessons

  1. Deal with distractions, if necessary, then get back to work. When life gets overwhelming, sometimes it’s best to simplify and focus on being busy like a bee. When we focus on what comes naturally and move from one task to another without having to analyze and plan, we often find an instinctive natural flow the makes us productive like no other time.
  2. Do what comes naturally instead of living in convenient confusion. Analyzing and planning are not necessarily wrong, but they can definitely stand in our way of making progress. They also work nicely as excuses at times. Sometimes, we need to rely on that which is already planned for us and simply walk in it.
  3. Follow God’s agenda instead of asking Him to bless your schedule. Sometimes we need to remember to check with Him before planning our days. We need to find out what He planned for us and do our best to make His will our schedule instead of asking Him to bless our plans.

Perhaps this analogy doesn’t work perfectly, and the idea of our good works being instinctive doesn’t quite fit with how a bee stays instinctively busy. But as I watch the bees wake up every morning (seriously, one was still as if sleeping when I went out and suddenly started moving after about an hour), I can’t help but think about how applying their instinctive work ethic to the good works God planed for me long ago might be more effective than the desert wanderings where I so often find myself.

DISCUSSION: How does observing instinct help in understanding ourselves better? Or, maybe it doesn’t. Thoughts?

21 thoughts on “Busy as a Bee

  1. Sometimes I observer too much and therefore get too hard on myself. Other times I don't look long or hard enough and allow myself to flounder. Introspection is good when it is godly and monitored. Least I think so anyway. 🙂

    • I do the same thing as far as sometimes observing too much and being too hard on myself and then flipping to the other extreme and not taking a close enough look. You make an excellent point about introspection needing to be godly and monitored. So often, it can get a life of its own and end up being detrimental.

  2. Kari, I love your busy bee lessons. Great points. "We need to rely on that which is already planned for us and simply walk in it." I'm making that my goal. My reason – because that is where I will find the most peace. I will remember this when I sit on our patio and watch bees doing what bees do.

  3. I like the part about checking with God before we plan our day. So often we do just the opposite. The pastor has been using Psalm 105:5 and reminding us that Gods Word is a lamp and a light to our path. Also the work of the bees benefits others. Maybe that is another lesson we need to learn. Not just to be busy, but to be about God's work in our world and be a blessing to others in the process.

    • I know I do the opposite all too often for sure. Psalm 105:5 is a great verse to add in here. I also love your point about the work of bees benefitting others. Rarely does anything we do only affect us. We have to know that what we do affects others, often in a far-reaching way that we can't even imagine. Being a blessing to others is a great way to gauge what we're doing as well. Terrific additions, Mary!

  4. I can add to the analogy, if I were to ask a bee who could talk what he wanted to do, he would give me a blank stare even if he understood me. I have a son who does this when I ask what he would like to do. Instead of reflecting on it or answering my question, he just does what he was created to do, which seems to be playing guitar and learning languages. Some of us love to think and talk about our life purpose and others just want to get busy.

    Thanks! You helped me think about my son in a different way.

    • Very cool that this connected with how you think about your son! You expanded my thinking on this too. Kids – who have child-like faith – simply gravitate toward what they were created to do. They don't tend to question their purpose like adults do, which says that it's something we learn along the way. Makes me what to try and keep my kids from learning it!

  5. I think, for me – people pleaser that I am – I still struggle with saying "no" far more often than I do with saying "yes." That'll keep me busier than I ever wanted or intended. There has been a vast improvement overall, but the trait is still there 🙁

    • Finding a balance in that area can be a struggle. I have a friend who is a people-pleaser like you & also really struggles with saying “no.” I probably say it too easily. It’s a protective mechanism for me. But I can keep busy without anyone’s help.

  6. Kari,
    I read once that if you want good instincts in something then practice practice practice that. I do not know that I trust instinct that is not developed in some fashion. I think spiritually to have good instinct we have to be immersed in God's word.

    • Terrific point, Mark. My youngest son is a great example of this. He has amazing instinct with regard to sports, and up until about two years ago, that's all he needed to excel. Now, things are sort of leveling out, and he's discovering the need to practice in order to stand out and to not be average. Spiritual instincts (which really are discernment & awareness of the Holy Spirit's "voice") can only happen by getting to know Jesus through prayer and time in His Word. Really, it's not much different than what my son is experiencing.

  7. Pingback: Saturday Shortcuts | Planned Peasanthood

  8. It's amazing how many lessons we can learn from instincts. I really enjoyed your post and three points. Great things happen when we focus on the purpose God has given us and stay in our strength zones.

    Bee's and ant's also teach us the importance of working hard. The are small but sure do put in a lot of work for the entire colony. Great post!

    • Yes, it is. I think we work so hard to be and do that we forget that got already has so much figured out for us. We just need to "walk in" what He's already set for us to do. You just reminded me of a lesson I taught years ago on the ants… might have to dig that out for a post sometime. Thanks for being such a great encourager both on my blog and for book writing. I really appreciate and need it.

  9. Hmm..this is intriguing. I can see what you're saying about it being instinctive. I would say that we have our flesh, the world, and the enemy to battle against – and that's the reason why we don't follow our instinct. And perhaps part of the way that these things battle against our instinct is by keeping us distracted – that's something to think on!

    • We definitely have a lot to distract us, even just naturally occurring distractions. And then there's the ones we add in ourselves. The more "stuff" we get out the way, the more we find walking in HIs ways and His intentions to happen naturally.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *