You’ve probably seen this video showing a group of ducklings struggling to follow Mommy Duck up the stairs. If you haven’t seen it, take ten seconds to watch this part of it — it will make you smile!
What you see is the twelfth little duckling trying to hop to the top. Eleven have managed, but he seems unable to conquer the top stair. To our joy, he doesn’t give up. Finally, around 2:19, he does it!
Many people find this video inspiring because the Little Duck doesn’t give up. I agree, Little Duck’s perseverance is remarkable.
But it’s Mommy Duck who really captures my attention. She’s careful not to get too far ahead. She never quacks impatiently. She never gives up on her little ones.
At one point, the human standing off camera offers the same suggestion I probably would, “come down and help them!” Mommy Duck ignores this advice. Maybe because she doesn’t speak human, or maybe ducks have wiser ways, I’m not sure.
We can hear the successful ducklings chirp excitedly, probably ready to move on and ditch their slower sibling. But the Mommy Duck never wavers. She positions herself between the chirping ducklings and the last struggling one. She waits patiently, standing there as if to say, “it’s okay, you can do this!”
Who does Mommy Duck remind you of?
Hint: This is like Sunday School, the right answer is always Jesus.
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells a parable about a lost sheep. The religious elites are complaining that Jesus spends too much time hanging around people who don’t follow the church’s rules. In response to their grumbling, Jesus says:
Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would … call in your friends and neighbors, saying, “Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!” Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue. (Luke 15:4-7, MSG)
This parable makes me think maybe God is like Mommy Duck, standing at the top of the steps, waiting patiently for us to find the way. (I don’t offer here a statement about the gender of God, I’m just working my analogy. I can’t imagine that God has a gender, but I really haven’t tried. Usually I think of God as “Him” or “Father God” because that’s how I’ve been taught.)
Unfortunately, sometimes we think Jesus is standing at the top of the stairs waiting for us to miss a step so he can quack at us. Or, worse, God is quacking while Jesus stands nearby rooting for us.
Sometimes I’m like one of the “successful” ducklings. I chirp excitedly about what I’ve achieved and how I found Mommy Duck right where I thought she’d be. I get so busy chirping about myself, I completely forget to walk back to the steps to see if someone needs a little help.
Sometimes, I’m the human standing off camera encouraging God to “come down and help them!” When I say, or think, something like that, maybe God wonders why I’m not helping. After all, I’ve just climbed the same staircase. If I would just stop chirping for a second, I’d probably understand Little Duck’s struggle.
Most of the time though, I am Little Duck. I’m trying to get to God, up there on that top step, but he’s just out of reach. I ponder at how easy it was for the ducklings who went before me. Maybe they’re better, stronger, smarter, or more lovable? I’m trying, trying, trying to conquer a step that seems impossibly high.
What a relief to know that God, like Mommy Duck, sees me trying. What peace it brings to know that God, like Mommy Duck, is waiting for me.
What about you? Are you someone who is “in” the church? Do you think Jesus is waiting for you (or others) to miss a step? Are you chirping excitedly about your “success”? Or, are you the last little duckling, still trying, trying, trying? I’d love to hear your story. Feel free to share here in the Comments, or find me on Twitter or Facebook.
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