Our duck, Chuck, cannot fairly be considered our duck. Chuck lives with us or, more accurately, around us. He was delivered to our home by some friends needing to relocate Chuck. Chuck needed to exist at a new home or he was soon to cease existing.
My wife, who has a soft spot for ducks, agreed to take in Chuck.
Chuck is a Muscovy duck. Muscovians can fly and perch in trees. They are a very hardy duck. Even so, we originally enclosed Chuck in our chicken coop at night. Coyotes roam our vicinity and we have lost several chickens in the night’s darkness to a local pack. We did not want Chuck to become “foie gras” for a coyote, so each night we herded him into the refuge of the coop.
However, Chuck is a large, male, bird. This means he eats a lot, without producing any eggs. We noticed a steep increase in the consumption of chicken feed after Chuck took up residence in our coop. The chicken food consumed by Chuck was proving to be expensive amusement of watching him waddle across our lawn. Our friends told us that they had never put Chuck in their chicken coop and he had survived. So, Chuck has been deprived of the refuge of the coop.
I was awakened at 3 AM last week to the yipping of several coyotes. I groggily remembered that I had forgotten to close the gate to the chicken coop. I pulled myself out of bed, slipped into rubber boots, and headed outside with flashlight in hand. The sounds of the coyotes immediately cease as I closed the door behind me. They were close.
I went into the coop and counted my chickens. They were all silently and safely roosting. I looked for Chuck as I closed the coop gate behind me. He was nowhere to be seen so I headed back to the house. I wished Chuck good luck as I went back to bed.
The following morning, there was Chuck waddling across the lawn. He had made it. “Good for you, Chuck”, I thought as I ate my oatmeal.
We don’t really provide care to Chuck. We give him inexpensive corn and water, but as far as security, Chuck is on his own. I look for Chuck each morning, half expecting to see a strewn patch of feathers signifying the demise of Chuck the duck. Yet, I am pleased to see him make it through the night…”good for you Chuck”.
I know that many people feel that God has the same attitude toward them, as I have for Chuck. I have heard too many times the adage, “God helps those who help themselves”. It is an unspoken belief that God sleeps through our dark nights, coming to our aid only when we have shown enough resilience to survive to the dawn.
Those who are in Christ are not Chucks. We are the precious children of our Heavenly Father, for whom He provides care.
He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own knows me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep. (John 10:12-15)
Our God cares not only enough to get out of bed when He hears the threatening sounds of wolves, He cared enough to send His own Son as the good shepherd to lay down His life for the sheep – you who know His voice.
You are cared for, Beloved of God, even when you feel like you are without refuge. “Good for you, JD” is not the affirmation I receive from God as I emerge from a trial or temptation. He is the good shepherd who watches over me through my long nights. He is our refuge who closes the gate of our soul to the wolves of darkness. He is the one who cares for us as we are silently sleeping in the security of our faith.
Therefore, we need to remember the love of our Father and learn to cry out to Him as the Psalmist when dark thoughts threaten our security:
Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings. (Psalm 61:1-4)