Flock of Geese: Let Me Be Your “Honker”… Loving God and Others

GeeseFlock of Geese

Artwork by Abigail (Age 15)

“The command that Christ has given us is this: whoever loves God must love his brother also.”

(1John 4:21)

In regards to Texas weather, apparently even the Geese get confused about which direction to fly!  At least that is what I was thinking as I observed a flock of Geese flying back and forth overhead as if they couldn’t make up their minds about which direction to fly. Of interest was that despite their difference of opinion in regards to the flight plan, the geese would quickly recover and regroup back into their v-shaped flying formation indicating (to me at least) that splitting ways simply wasn’t an option. With each change of course, the only notable difference was the increased sense of urgency in which the geese honked at each other. If only it were that easy for us to reconcile after an altercation! But because we often allow ourselves to be ruled by our egos, pride, and “flesh,” we may choose to withhold our love and encouragement from others for any number of reasons. It could be that we feel others are “undeserving” of our love or are “too different” from us to love. At other times, we may feel that our love is not reciprocated in a likewise manner or appreciated in accordance to our expectations. In instances like these, it is tempting to “fly our own direction” verses seeking the path of peace and unity. However, “the command that Christ has given us is this: whoever loves God must love his brother also.”(1John4:21)

I’ll never forget experiencing the restorative power of unmerited love and forgiveness from my youngest son. One night when I was feeling especially frustrated and under-appreciated, I couldn’t resist the urge to let my family know exactly how I felt. Even as I inhaled deeply preparing to exhale another long string of ugly complaints, my youngest son walked directly into the path of my fury and threw his arms around me embracing me in a bearlike hug. His unmerited love in the midst of my contention completely extinguished my anger and brought an abrupt halt to my tirade.

In a much more profound way, “God has shown us how much he loves us-it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us!”(Rom 5:8) Through his sacrificial death and resurrection, God has demonstrated his great power and desire to not only restore our relationship to him but to one another. Consider the transforming impact of Jesus’ redeeming love toward Peter…even after Peter denied knowing him 3 times. Although Peter certainly didn’t “deserve” Jesus’ love, grace, or encouragement, Jesus appears to Peter after his resurrection seeking to restore him in a most tender and personal way. During this special scene tailor-made to speak to the depths of Peter’s heart, Jesus asked three times (the same number of times Peter denied him) if Peter loves him to which Peter responds “Yes Lord, you know that I love you.” (I can only imagine the guilt and shame he must have been feeling…) To this, Jesus responds simply, “Take care of my sheep.” (John 21:15-17 paraphrased) For the love of Christ, let us love one another!

Because their journey can be long and tedious, it is believed that Geese conserve their energy by flying in a v-shaped formation. Typically, one goose will lead for a while, taking the “hits” if you will, while the others honk as if encouraging each other to “keep flying, don’t give up, we are almost home!” After the goose leads the flock for a while, it will fall back into the formation thus allowing another to lead the flock as the cycle begins again. Likewise, our spiritual journeys can become long and tedious. In the midst of our journey, it can be tempting to pull away from the flock or lose sight of God’s eternal “promised land.” During these times of confusion, let us love and “honk” at one another all the more urgently!

In closing, please allow me to share this beautiful quote from Mother Teresa:

“People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.”

“In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

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Broken Pieces

 IMG_1063 Broken Pieces

One day while walking along the seashore, I offered a prayer of thanksgiving to God for revealing himself in the dazzling light of day, the uniqueness of each sea creature, and the roar of the crashing waves. I then asked him to show me more.

As I made my humble request, I had visions of finding the perfect shell… perhaps a Conch or shiny, new Sand-Dollar. Instead, I felt God calling me to pick up only the broken pieces of shell on this special quest. Even as I wondered who in the world wants the broken ones, I felt God responding to my unspoken thought: “I do” came the simple reply. Why… I wondered as I gathered the broken pieces of shell that had been rejected, left behind, or discarded in place of something new…why would anyone want the broken ones?!!

God’s word came to me almost at once and I knew: The son of man came to save those who are last, least, lonely, and broken. “Those who are well have no need of a doctor!” (Matt 9:12 paraphrased) Thus, determined to obey, I gathered as many broken pieces of shell as I could find on this beautiful, sunshiny day. As I bent to pick up one final broken piece, I was treated to a burst of color and life only to discover a ladybug had made its way to the beach!

IMG_1068With my bucket now full of broken pieces of shells, I somehow knew there was but one thing left to do. Like a puzzle, I gathered all the broken pieces together and at last, I could see the Sand-Dollar I had hoped to find. Far from perfect, shiny, or new, this Sand-Dollar required putting each of the broken pieces together before I could truly recognize the beauty and poetry of its original design.

IMG_1281As I reflected on the meaning of this strange and wonderful Sand-Dollar find, another type of picture came to mind. With deep love, God sent his own Son from heaven above to gather us-the least, last, lonely, and “broken ones”- into one body where His life-giving Spirit “is in all and works through all.” (Eph 4:6; 1Cor 12:7 paraphrased) Through God’s call in Jesus Christ, we have gone from broken to chosen! Though we have many faces and represent many places, together in Christ, we become but a glimpse of God’s great love and amazing grace.United to reflect our Father’s heart, “Christ is like a single body, which has many parts; it is still one body even though it is made up of many parts.” (1Cor 12:12)