Monday, June 7, 2010

Want to Be a Honker

Jesus told us not to worry about our life and it’s needs. Psa 37 tells us not to “fret ourselves”…and the Apostle Peter tells us to “cast our cares on Him because He cares for you.  Good advice particularly for those of us that tend to fret or mull over things that are in our minds. The last few days I read some of this material in a devotional, thought it exceptional and would like to share it. It’s an illustration from nature.

Along with not worrying, Jesus told us to look at the birds, and how God cares for them. We may well wonder what in the heck we can learn from a bunch of birds. Well be prepared for a surprise, I was truly impressed by the following story about geese.

Winter is approaching and geese are flying south for the winter. They do this year after year. First, notice they fly united. They don’t fly separately, in random style because alone, they can’t go the distance. They are designed to flu in the usual V formation that we see in the fall and early winter. When the bird flaps it’s wings, the air movement created provides an uplift, easing the work load of the bird behind it. Together, their flight range increases about 71%. Even the youngest, weakest, and oldest geese can make the trip, because they accomplish together what they cannot accomplish separately. Here is the lesson: Scripture tells us, “let us meet together and encourage one another.” We are not called to fly solo! Occasionally a goose strays off on its own but soon becomes exhausted, loses altitude and ultimately pulls wearily back into formation. “Look at the birds,” and learn!

Every goose is a “pinch-hitter.” When one gets into a pinch, another goes to bat for him. Every formation has a “point goose.” He’s out front leading, setting the pace for the others. It’s a tough position because the point goose cuts the headwinds, meets the changing weather conditions, is the first to feel the rain in it’s face, the snow in its eyes and the ice on its wings. He keeps the formation on target whatever the situation. It’s hard, exhausting and lonely at times because there’s nobody ahead of him to be the wind beneath his wings. The formation depends on him to persevere, stay on track and get them safely to their destination.

Every church has a point goose…he’s called the pastor! Each department has a point goose, education, youth, finance evangelism, care ministries, etc.. They lead, set the pace, and give direction to those who follow. Point ministries are usually over-functioning and tend to burn out. Just before the point goose is exhausted, a space opens up in the formation and he slips back into it while another bird replaces him, seamlessly becoming the next point goose. Pinch-hitting for each other preserves the life of the formation. A great church isn’t about great staff, it’s about volunteers willing to pinch-hit whenever needed.

In the world of geese, the aged, very young and infirm are kept protected in the rear of the formation. But they aren’t isolated, discounted, or considered useless; they fulfill a vital role. They become the honking section and cheer for the leader. Inevitably bad weather threatens the mission. The going gets tough and the tough are struggling. From the rear of the formation a lone honk sounds, initiating a goose chorus honking encouragement to the point goose. We too need a “honking” section in times of stress, and that’s part of the responsibility of the church…encouraging! Speaking uplifting words, praying for us, some saying, ‘we are behind you, we’ve got your back.” Many servants of Christ have crossed there valley of discouragement because of the “honking” of an old, pock marked, battle-hardened, straggle-feathered honker, too stubborn to let a brother or sister quit on their watch! A few “honks” of encouragement can overpower a storm of complaints. So be an encouraging “honker.”

Geese have life-long relationships, fully committed to each other. When the ravages of time or circumstances make it impossible for a bird to continue the trip and it begins to lose altitude or fails to keep abreast of the formation, the gaggle provides it comfort, nurture and protection. Two strong geese leave the formation, flying with the “patient” safely between them, finding a sheltered location with food and water and make a home for the needy bird. They’ll stay with their ward until it either recovers or dies before joining another formation. For them, everything goes on hold to care for the ailing bird. What an example to us of self-sacrificing love! If a gaggle of birds can do it, surely God’s family ought to be able to do it.

Lost and stray geese are always welcomed into a formation. There is no elite club for geese. When a bird is separated from it’s gaggle by weather, accident or infirmity, it is taken into another and given full family status. Thee formation will alter it’s plans, reschedule it’s arrival time, and inconvenience itself to accommodate a straggler that needs them. Many bird newcomers arrive dirty, bedraggled, and ill fed. They are never turned away. God’s church isn’t a museum for masterpieces, its a hospital for those who have been hurt by life. Christ has no higher agenda than to welcome than to recruit, save, and adopt to adopt a stranger into the fold. We need to re-read the section in I Cor 6 that speaks to the issue of just who it is Jesus sends us out to recruit for His gaggle…we ourselves were taken into the formation, washed, sanctified, justified and given full family status! And thank God we were!!!!