I’ve always been fascinated by birds, although my knowledge of them is minimal. Watching them soar in the air is as sometimes freeing as doing it myself. The way the air current lifts them and carries them to and fro and up and down is captivating and so graceful as they are carried.
Whether they be red birds, yellow birds, bluebirds, little sparrows, woodpeckers, or soaring eagles, they’re all beautiful creatures in our world. However, two group of birds draw me in with incredible power, and I like to think that I can relate to them the most.
Canadian geese have excited me ever since I heard their story many years ago, as do the mighty and the majestic eagles. Have you ever watched geese fly in formation, like they are the live version of the Air Force Thunderbirds, soaring across the sky in the V-formation? The point goose is working the hardest because it has to break through the air current. That also creates an up-draft for the geese flying behind it not to work quite as hard at flying. When the lead goose gets tired, he falls back into the formation to rest up. Another bird will step up to the task and be the leader of the group.
Each member of the flock has their job to do for the gaggle or flock. Some of the jobs may be minimal, but each one has it’s own responsibility for the gaggle’s success. At one point, we may be the point goose, and then at another time, we may be the one in the back who is looking right when everyone else is flying another way. Can you relate? Sometimes we’re on top of our game, and at other times, we just kind of float along with our little group with not so much responsibility. That’s OK. Ephesians 3 encourages us that there is a time for everything and a purpose for every season we go through in our lives. What gives us hope alongside this is that nothing lasts forever, meaning that our difficult times will not last and things will turn around.
The changes we’ve seen in our lives over the last year of the pandemic will not last forever; we will be able to be with family and friends again. Similarly, our mountain-top exciting times are fleeting as well, so we’re called to appreciate them as they are happening along with the time that we have with our loved ones in the moment.
“To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace”
Another interesting fact about the geese is that they mate together for life. If a goose from a flock should become ill or injured drops to the ground, there will be two from the gaggle that will drop with him. They will stay together until the goose is healed and ready to fly and join another gaggle, or it dies. That’s a pretty strong relationship to be able to do that. I’ve seen some human friends that drop out of the scene if times get tough for someone. As Christians, God calls us to stand beside each other for support and help in time of need. Ephesians 4:2 commands us “with all humility [forsaking self-righteousness], and gentleness [maintaining self-control], with patience, bearing with one another in [unselfish] love.”
Psalm 46 is one of my favorite Psalms. This writing gives us hope that God is always there for help, He provides refuge, security and peace; and above all, He will not fail to rescue those who love Him. Other people are the hands and feet of God in our lives.
“God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling.
There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.”
Did you ever hear that raucous and discordant sound of the “Honk! Honk! Honk!” of a gaggle of geese flying in formation? Those sounds are just honks of encouragement from the geese in the back to the ones in the front to keep up their speed. It used to irritate me early in the morning as I was awakening if I was jarred awake by a flock of gaggling geese. Now, after knowing this story for decades, I view that as an encouragement to start my day.
We all thrive on words of encouragement from friends and loved ones as we go about our journeys, no matter what that means to each of us. To hear that we’re doing a good job and our actions make a difference in someone else’s life means the world to us. Whether it be in our personal life, professional life, or church life, we all need to hear that ‘atta-boy’ call from the side-lines. That fills our love meter and helps us to do everything better. In today’s world, where there is so much negativity, criticism, and skepticism, even the smallest word of encouragement or positive comment goes a very long way. Who can we encourage today?
When I worked in Western Massachusetts for a large healthcare facility, my office overlooked a small body of water. It was a beautiful sight looking out from the second floor. There were five or six gaggles of geese that would routinely make that their home. The different families would come back every year. They would have little furball babies that would waddle with their siblings and follow their Mother around the grass. They soon would become adolescent birds and start to fly, and then finally adults. Our work family adopted the geese’s story as a great lesson in teamwork and became imprinted in our minds and experiences. I still get texts from friends that say, ‘I just saw some geese and heard them Honking…I’m thinking of you”. I occasionally will get texts from the previous church that we served that says ‘HONK! HONK!” and I know that means “I love you, and I’m praying for you.”
Where we currently live, in Hamburg, PA, there are several eagle’s nests and we can occasionally see the eagles flying in the area. There is a Facebook group for eagle sightings of those inhabitants. The way that they soar reminds me of Psalm 91, what the song ‘On Eagles Wings’ is about. This is a song about God’s protection when danger comes into our lives. It doesn’t promise that we will live a life free of danger, but He will be there to protect us whenever we face it.
I just love the story of the geese and also of the freedom and peace that the eagles represent. We find that both of these can be applied in all facets of our lives. What a beautiful world we can all live in if we take the time to Honk! Honk! to friends, family, and strangers daily. What better way to share the light and love of Christ to others and help each other soar?
Be blessed to be a blessing to others,