"For this is our God,
whose people we are,
God's well-tended flock." Psalm 95:7
I know they might be a bit hard to make out, but there eight little ducklings in the photo above. They were really small, about half the size of my fist. I want to share with you the story behind the photo. I think it's a good one.
On the last day of my retreat last week, I drove over to Patapsco State Park, about a ten minute drive from the retreat center. I've been to the park and was impressed with its size and the fact that, during the week, there's hardly anyone there.
As I walked the trails, trying to get my thoughts together about my retreat, I saw a trail sign pointing to McKeldin Rapids. It looked like the trail wasn't especially arduous, so I decided to take it. It was a good call.
The trail led to the rapids, which fed into a large pool of water. The rapids weren't especially large, but there was a lot of water flowing through them. As I started climbing the rocks leading to the top of the rapids, an adult female duck took flight and flew just above the water, landing in the pool some distance down river. The duck seemed out of sorts to me, and I was thinking maybe it was injured. As I turned to look back up-stream, I saw the coolest thing.
In front of me was a little group of ducklings trying to go up the rapids, and, due to their size, they were having a very hard time of it. As they struggled, the force of the water kept tossing them back down. One by one, however, they made it up, much to my amazement.
As I settled down on a rock, I began thinking/praying, and writing in my journal. After about five minutes, I heard all this quacking coming upstream. I stood up just in time to see the eight little ducklings who had struggled so greatly to get away from me, begin to race down the swift water.
It was really pretty awesome to see them try to make it down. I've been whitewater rafting several times, and it can be pretty scary at times. I couldn't imagine what it would be like to be a little duckling tumbling down, some getting caught up in the turbulent, swirling water. In the end, they all made it to the peaceful pool at the end of the rapids, and I watched them wade out one by one on the opposite bank.
As soon as this experience was over, I began to ask God what He wanted to teach me in this. I just happened upon this scene, and I knew there was something God wanted to say to me in it. Here's what I figured out:
We're living in some pretty turbulent times right now. Personally, the transfer of my pastor at the church where I work will force us to go through some major changes soon. Change is never easy. This will be major for me and my parish community. Other people reading this might be going through health problems, unemployment concerns, relationship or financial problems.
I think God allowed me to watch this scene unfold because He wanted to remind me that there was no need to be afraid. I'm part of a well-tended flock, and although we might be very apprehensive about what the future might hold, He's in control and has a plan.
The future might include some turbulent times,and I might have a sense of being tossed about like one of those little ducklings. But we, like them, will make it through. The trip might not be easy, but we'll reach the prize, just as St. Paul reminds us.
If you're worried about something today, say a quick prayer, asking God to give you some wisdom and peace. Ask God to show you the way. Remember that you are special in His eyes, and you are part of His well-tended flock.