It’s that time of year — in the Midwest, at least — when the amazing happens: the Canada geese make their annual trek to the warmth of the south for the winter, passing through on their way. I always wonder and marvel at this God-given impetus within them as I see a gaggle flying, in tight V-formation, against a clear blue autumn sky. What is it that triggers their need to get going? As the leaves begin to fall, and the wind cools, does God whisper in their ears of the shortening days?
There’s a lovely little pond behind our home, and it seems it’s become a popular wayside inn for a number of our feathered friends each year. I love hearing their earnest honking, sometimes in the middle of a foggy night—the plaintive, somewhat melancholy sound matching the feelings in my plaintive, melancholy soul upon having to say goodbye to another summer, not able to fly south, like they do, to escape the coming grey days of the winter cold.
With this increased seasonal population of geese, it’s not at all unusual to have to hit the brakes for a group of them as they make a valiant march across any number of local roadways. It’s not so bad on a side street in town at 30 miles per hour, but alarming on a 4-lane highway outside of town that cuts across the prairies where they graze, at 55 or 60. It would be almost comical, the way they take their time, waddling and then pausing to crane their necks, webbed feet on dirty pavement, unhurried, totally unaware of my hurriedness in getting somewhere, if it wasn’t so precarious for them. I hold my breath as cars from the opposite direction speed toward their graceful bodies. Will the drivers see them and stop in time? Unfazed by the squealing tires, they purposefully cross in single file, as the line of traffic builds in both directions…
So I’m sitting in my car, tapping my fingers on the steering wheel with a bit of impatience, and I say out loud, as if they can hear me, “But you can fly ! Instead of risking your lives, you can easily glide above the road, out of danger! Use the wings God gave you!”
And in that moment, I am stunned by this thought: Isn’t that so like me. How often I don’t use the wings God gave me, stubbornly tethered to this earth, bent on doing it my own way (which inevitably ends up being the harder, more perilous, precarious way) even when I know His ways are higher than my ways, and that’s he’s proven this to me over and over. I trudge my way on a dirty road through many dangers, toils and snares, coming at me from both directions, on my own steam. Slogging through, sometimes joyless, to get to the other side. This, when my powerful God has equipped me with everything I need to soar, to mount up with wings as eagles in a clean, clear, wide open sky, and do it the heaven way. His way. The far superior way. The way of joy.
Which is followed by another stunning thought: Isn’t it so like God, who is not tapping his fingers on the steering wheel, who is not impatient with me, as he looks on while I waddle along on the low road, season upon season, when I could be flying. How beautiful is his long-suffering, how he waits, waits for me to use everything he’s given me to live victoriously in this life, being all he has designed me to be in Christ. To rise above. He lovingly watches, lets me learn from my mistakes, only encouraging, with no condemnation.
And if my Heavenly Father does this for me, is this what I am doing as a parent, as a friend? If my teenage son may someday choose the low road, will I be as lovingly patient with him? How well am I encouraging that friend who walks a dangerous path, with no condemnation, in the way to soar?
Dear God, please whisper in my ear about the shortening days, and let me fly, O Lord, let me fly.