“Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.” (Psalm 16:1)
The racket emanating from my backyard escalated, forcing me to abandon my task and discover what could possibly be creating such uproar. With the rumbling of thunder as backdrop, I peered through the light rainfall and noticed a creamy-brown duck marching back and forth behind the pool fence, barking orders like a general empowering her troops.
The mesh enclosure surrounding the pool barricaded this mother Gadwall from her four ducklings as they swam frantically in the chlorinated water. The booming summer storm had apparently thrown them off course, and the ducklings were trapped in the pool while their desperate mother paced on the outside
With deafening honks usually associated with an 18-wheeler attempting to avoid a head-on collision, this agitated two-pound bird was evidently convinced her brood was in harm’s way. Clearly, it was her duty to reassure them at the top of her lungs that even though they were temporarily separated, she would definitely ensure their freedom and reconcile them to her side in prompt fashion.
I eased the gate open, she charged into the pool, and they tucked their tiny bodies against hers. Like an Olympic gymnast, she began repeated attempts to scale the tiled wall and escape the water, encouraging them to emulate her race to freedom.
Not for one moment did she take a break; the squawking directives and vault maneuvers continued for over an hour. When three of them finally hurdled out, leaving one behind, she kept up the barrage of quacking and flapping until the last one finally followed suit.
In time, the birds flew away together to continue their journey. But I stopped my other pursuits, realizing this bit of distraction was worth considering. In her relentless pursuit of her ducklings, her unwavering persistence to protect and preserve her own, this brave, little duck was a beautiful picture of a mother’s fierce, loving devotion to her tribe.
Something about the event brought to mind the Lord’s love for his own, how he calls to us through his Word, propelling us to safety by the wisdom and guidance of his Spirit. He is vigilant to protect us, faithful to ensure our rescue, mindful we need constant repetition in order to know the best way to go.
Our Lord never gives up on his own, most especially when tough times and predicaments get in our way. Like that little cluster of ducklings, we too must recognize that our task is to listen carefully to his Word, follow the example he set for us, and obey the one who has always demonstrated the wisest course of action going forward.
I had a chance meeting with a force to be reckoned with in a backyard classroom, in the middle of a rainstorm, on an ordinary afternoon. I’m grateful she flew by to show me a thing or two I needed to learn.
Elizabeth A Mitchell
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