I was remembering our trip to the park several years ago. My twins were about four years old and we spent the day walking around a lake, stopping occasionally to feed the fish and the ducks. We observed wildlife and took in the beauty God had created. We were privileged to see a family of ducks. So we stopped to watch for a time. The mamma duck led the way. She was in the front of the line and her little ducklings, still covered in soft yellow feathers followed in single file behind her. The papa duck was the caboose, stationed at the end of the line. He stood back and made sure each duckling was in line. When one would wander in a different direction, he waddled over as quickly as he could to put them back in line. He pecked at them and squawked at them until they moved back into the place they belonged. It was incredible to behold the instincts of these animals.
I loved watching the ducks that day. I’d never seen anything like it before nor have I since. But I was thinking about those ducks and when they got out of line and how it compares to our walk with Christ. We are on our journey with God, walking the path He has paved for us. He leads us in the way we should go. We as Christians (followers of Christ) are called to let Him lead us as we walk out this thing called life. But there are times we find ourselves wandering. Every so often, something catches our eye so we head in that direction. Many times we are unaware we are beginning to stray. We think we are being led by God in this new direction. There are times we get our wires crossed and head in a different direction without realizing this wasn’t God’s plan for us at all. And sometimes, after we’ve traveled down the wrong path for a while, we realize we have made a mistake. But we continue off the path anyway. We make excuses. We justify (or at least I do) our decisions and stick with them.
God is not like the papa duck that swoops in to peck at us and squawk at us. He gently speaks to our hearts and reminds us where we are going. He calls us back to where we are supposed to be. Sometimes we heed the call. Other times we ignore it. But still our God is a relentless God and He continues to beckon us. God is a patient gentleman who doesn’t force Himself on anyone, but He will use any means possible to get our attention. He loves us and cannot bear to watch us fall and suffer. But there are times He must allow the circumstances of our mistakes to again move us back to where we need to be. All the while He loves us through it.
“Then Job replied to the Lord; ‘I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.'” (Job 42:1-2 NIV)
This happens to be one of my favorite verses. I have read it several times over the last few days along with the “Epilogue” at the end of the chapter. The story of Job has a happy ending. I love how God restored Job. I love how God after rebuking Job’s friends then offered forgiveness to them. I loved that God had such high regard for Job that He listened to Job’s plea for God’s forgiveness on behalf of his friends. Job didn’t wander off the path. He stayed in line and he continued to follow even though his path turned into an uphill climb. Everyone around him wanted to curse God except Job. He was solid in his faith, not even the loss of everything he owned shook him. His friends and his wife judged by circumstances. But Job judged based on God’s character and who he knew God to be.
There have been times in my life where I have wandered off. I have taken matters into my own hands and handled a situation as I thought it should be dealt with. I was right in my own mind justifying my behavior and choices. I am thankful God didn’t just let me wander aimlessly. I am also glad God didn’t beat me down. Instead, He reminded me where I needed to be. He was gentle and loving. And when I desire to wander down that same destructive road again, God stands in the way to direct me back to where I belong. Life isn’t about the “easy way out”. Life isn’t about the quickest way to get what we want. Life, the Christian life, is about following God even when it hurts. It’s about believing God still loves us, although He has stripped everything from us. It is about doing the hard things when we are called to them knowing our trust is in the One who provides the strength to continue.
Just like those ducklings being led by their mamma and watched over by their papa, we too are surrounded. “You hem me in – behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.” (Psalm 139:5 NIV) I receive such comfort from that statement because I know that no matter where I find myself along the way, God is still with me. He never leaves my side, or my back or my front. He stays with me even when I veer off the beaten path.
Thank you Lord for being with me and continuing to love me, even when I make a mess of things.