I’ve recently shared this story with family and friends about how our little ducks taught me a valuable lesson, so I wanted to share it with you all in hopes that it will be an encouragement to you in the new year no matter what you are facing.
We were given the cutest little baby ducks last spring. Our kids enjoyed taking care of them, feeding them and raising them. Once they got old enough to be outside, we moved them to a make-shift pen that my husband made for them to keep them safe from the foxes and other predators that are prevalent on our land. We put a little plastic kiddie pool in the pen so they could learn to swim, so that when it was time to move them to our pond they would be ready.
The thought was, to let them develop their wings first before letting them roam free so that if a predator came they could fly away and try to escape. We did this because the last time we had baby ducks we didn’t wait as long and we let them out onto the pond once they could swim well, but unfortunately they perished quickly because of predators. We learned our lesson, so we kept these new ducks penned longer to hopefully give them a better chance at surviving.
What we didn’t anticipate was that when it was time to let them out of the pen so they could roam free and enjoy the pond, they were reluctant to leave their pen at all. In fact, these ducks were absolutely terrified of the pond and wouldn’t set foot in it. We had somehow managed to raise hydrophobic ducks! We tried multiple times to get them to go to the pond, but they always were so scared and made their way back to their “safe” pen where they felt comfortable.
Finally, one day my husband, sons and I were able to successfully herd them into the water after much prodding and guiding. Essentially we were being “Duck Shepherds” and leading them to better lush pastures and better water, but they were SO resistant and constantly quacked and tried to make their way back to their pen with the little kiddie pool.
Doing all of this “duck shepherding” that day made me laugh at the absurdity of the situation. These ducks were being so stupid to prefer a small pen with a kiddie pool over a lovely pond and acreage with which to roam. These are DUCKS for crying out loud. They are MADE for the water, but they needed to be shown and taught what to do. They needed a shepherd just like we need a shepherd in our own lives.
Psalm 23 talks about the Lord being our shepherd, walking with us through the valley of the shadow of death and leading us beside the still waters (see the full passage below at the bottom of this post). When I was shepherding those ducks, it struck me that this must be similar to how God feels about us and our actions sometimes. He tries to “take us out of our comfort zone” to stretch our faith and grow us, but we are so resistant to change that we would rather stay cooped up in our little pen with stagnant waters. Just like the ducks didn’t understand the “valley” we were taking them through in order to get to the new pond, we don’t always understand our valleys the Lord takes us through. It is stressful at the time, but the Lord asks us to trust HIM because he sees the big picture that our finite minds can’t see and He knows what awaits us on the other side.
My husband and I could see the big picture for our ducks and all the wonderful things that awaited them and the Lord sees the big picture for us. He asks us to trust him, knowing that there is a better place for us to go, but many times we are resistant to change and get scared and want to turn back. Going through something new can seem awful at the time, but we must remember that the LORD works ALL things for our good and we can TRUST in HIM even when we don’t understand the path He is taking us.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
We were finally successful at getting the ducks to stay in the new pond and they came to love their new-found freedom and still waters.
How many times do we get stuck in our own comfortable place and not want to move out of our comfort zone even though the Lord is leading us to a much better place? The fear of the unknown can be crippling and yet, the Lord takes us “through the valley of the shadow of death” for our own good. Later on, he feeds us and prepares a place for us at his wonderful table. Oh! What we would miss out on if we resisted our shepherd’s leading and only stayed where WE think we ought to be. We can’t see the big picture. Only God can. Rest in HIM and the limited knowledge that we have and don’t be afraid to step out in faith and follow him into the unknown this year.
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.