LPNI Devotion – February 2017


Mother Duck


My wife and I live in suburban Adelaide, in South Australia.  Directly across the road from us is a linear park that follows the Torrens River from the lower foothills, some 30 kilometers to the coast.   It’s a veritable haven for water birds of every kind – ducks of various species, water fowl, ibis, egrets and even the occasional pelican.


Normally the Torrens is a narrow, gentle stream, its waters held back by the Kangaroo Creek reservoir.  Last September, following record torrential rain in the catchment area, it became a raging, turgid torrent, at least two-three metres higher than its normal flow level, and 20 to 30 metres wide in places.  Three footbridges upstream from our house went under at least a metre of water and their decking was swept downstream.  Trees along the river edge were uprooted, and debris of all kinds was washed down along its banks. 


There are walking tracks on either side of the river, which were flooded in various places.  Like many others, my wife and I went for a walk along the track to see the unusual sight of the river in flood.  We came across a mother duck with two very small ducklings.  They were on the downstream side of some debris that had built up against a log in the river.  The water swirled around the log, but was a little quieter on the downstream side of it.  The mother duck, however, kept herself on the upstream side of the ducklings, protecting them from the force of the water as it swirled around each end of the log. 


At one point she tried to lead them across to the river bank, but the strong current swept the ducklings away from her.  She immediately followed them, and again placed herself upstream from them protecting them from the force of the water and slowly paddled across to the bank with the ducklings at her side, all the time protecting them from the force of the water.


It was a moving insight into behaviour in the world of nature … and also a graphic illustration of how God cares for his people.  When the storms of life surround us, and the waves threaten to sweep us away, God is always there with his protecting power, shielding us from harm and danger.  And even if we get swept up by forces beyond our control he comes after us, placing himself between us and whatever threatens us, and keeping us in his care. 


John chapter 10 records Jesus talking about his relationship with the people of his church in terms of a shepherd and sheep.  It’s a different word picture, but it makes the same point.  ‘I know them, and they follow me’, he said.  ‘I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no-one can snatch them out of my hand.’  It’s a word to remember when the pressures of life threaten to send us under. 


The Christ who gave up his life, and then took it up again so he could claim us as his own is with us in every situation we face in life.  He keeps us close to himself ‘upstream’, between us and where the dangers that threaten us come from … the way a mother duck protects her ducklings on a flooding river and keeps them close to herself.


Robert J Wiebusch

Paradise, South Australia