Learning that word: paleolimnology made me remember my studies in evolution where scientists regard lakes as a good place to track changes in a species because the lake is a microcosm relatively isolated from outside influences. Because the fish in the lake will never breed with the fish in another lake ( under normal circumstances), they evolve to fit the exact niche of that lake. They thrive in that particular climate, under that particular light condition, eating that particular food.
(¦pāl·ē·ō·lim′näl·ə·jē) The study of the past conditions and processes of ancient lakes. The study of the sediments and history of existing lakes.
It’s an interesting concept: the evolution of a microcosm – one species becoming the most efficient at surviving in a niche. A species becomes the most efficient by never getting out of its microcosm.
Those that are most suitable for conditions breed with others that are most suitable for conditions, and they have offspring that are more suitable still. If a species stays in one place long enough, it becomes the best at surviving and multiplying. It evolves.
But evolution is boring. No one has ever made an action movie about someone becoming efficient within his microcosm. Human curiosity wants to see the fish in a different environment. Human curiosity wants to see how it would react to a different set of challenges. A northern pike may be pretty ferocious in a river in Illinois, but how would it do in the Amazon amongst some piraña? Human curiosity takes things out of their microcosms. Human curiosity created the mule, and it brought the horse to America.
Sometimes, though, it isn’t curiosity that changes a species or takes it out of its microcosm, but a knowledge of the greater good. Take for example penicillin: a subspecies of a type of fungus. Microbiologists grow it in a niche designed specifically for it so that it can become the most efficient at surviving. The penicillin lives in a petri dish where it’s easy for it to survive. It wouldn’t be able to leave this friendly environment, nor would it want to if it was able.
Microbiologists know that the penicillin would be useful in a different environment – an infected human body. They know that this is a place where the penicillin can live well eating bacteria and also do its environment good ( also by eating bacteria). It’s a knowledge of the greater good that breeds the penicillin into a different species and takes it out of its efficient microcosm.
How similar is this to God’s will in our lives? If we live in our microcosm and are not interfered with, we can become the most efficient at surviving within our niche. But God knows that efficiency is boring. God wants to breed us into something more useful like mules or amoxycillin and take us out of our microcosm to be put somewhere that we will not only thrive, but we will do our surrounding environment good.
- How efficient are you in your niche? How energized are you by where you are now?
- Where else might you thrive and also serve a greater good?
- What would have to change?
- How would you need to change?
- What change would you like to be in the world?
Thank you, Jared, for joining me at the Intersection of Purpose & Now.