There's nothing as cozy as being warm and snug in your home while the icy winds blow outside. Better yet is being in your pajamas sitting near the fire with a cup of hot cocoa with nothing else to do. One thing that can spoil this, however, is when there's something on the other side of the window, out in the cold and unprotected. What's even more frustrating is when you have tried to invite and coax it to provide shelter, but from either misunderstanding or fear, it refuses to do what is best for its own good. Such is the on-going saga with this columnist's ducks, introduced about a year ago in a column called, "Just Ducky." What's interesting is that this story parallels another one quite well for this time of the year.
For the third year in a row, even though the ducks are tame enough to come up to the house every day to be fed and recognize when they are being called, they refuse to leave what has been the protection of the pond to their winter shed. It seems they would rather be frozen right into the pond rather than trust someone who knows what is ahead and the dangers it will bring. Does this sound like something or someone else? An unknown author draws such a parallel in a story called, "Why Christmas," to show how we sometimes behave just like the foolish ducks.
The story begins with a man who doesn't believe in God. Even on Christmas Eve, he refuses to attend worship service with his wife and children at his local church because he does not see how God would ever lower himself to come to Earth as a man. Such a ridiculous idea he thought. As the evening progressed, the winter winds brought a blizzard. Thinking he could relax by the fire, this was soon interrupted by several thumps at the window. It seems a flock of wild geese, while flying south for the winter, became lost in the storm and were stranded on his farm. Helpless, the geese flapped aimlessly in circles and were without food or shelter. Not a cold-hearted man, he wanted to help them; he knew they would be safe if they could spend the night in his barn. He went to the barn and opened the doors. Calling them, offering bread, and even shooing failed to have them come to the barn. They didn't catch on and continued to flap blindly in the storm. Why wouldn't they follow him to the only place that they would be warm, safe, and survive the night?
The man then had another idea to save these creatures. He thought that if only he were a goose, then he could show them the way to safety. He went into the barn, got one of his own geese and released it behind the wild flock. His goose flew through the flock straight to the barn, after which the others followed one by one to safety. The man then thought of what he had said earlier about how ridiculous it would be for God to become like one of us. But suddenly it made sense. God had sent his Son to become like us so He could show us the way that would save us, and this, was what Christmas was all about. Right there in the snow, this man kneeled and said his first prayer to thank God for coming in human form to get him out of the storm.
Are we like the geese, lost in a storm trying to find our own way or like the foolish ducks that seem to think they know best by refusing to leave what they think is good for them? Who can truly relax by a warm fire when something or someone we love is not there to also enjoy it? Most likely God feels the same worry and frustration when He has so much to offer and his children refuse. As for the ducks, it was just a day or two ago when all they could do was skate on the pond with no food or water, that in desperation they were finally able to be coaxed into their winter home.
During this Christmas season, think about letting go of similar stubbornness and false confidence in our own ways. Rather, accept the gift of the one who came to show us the way where there is true safety and a feast to be enjoyed.
Make it a special week with family and friends, Mary and Rosamond
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