A Lesson From The Geese

It is early November. The air is crisp and clear.  We are out sitting on our deck with our dog. Suddenly we become aware of a raucous noise overhead. The dog begins to bark. We look up. In the clear blue sky we see several V-shaped flight formations of Canada Geese on their way south, to escape the northern Canadian winters. We watch for a while, until our dog grows restless.

My husband says to me, "You know Helen when you try to describe that call to anyone else, you are really telling them about yourself.  To someone old enough to have known real loss, their passing cry is the sweetest, saddest, most heart-piercing sound in the world.  But to a young boy or girl, it is the most thrilling call to adventure.  What the geese are actually saying to each other, I can't say, but no one can hear their cry and remain unmoved."

Okay. We’ve seen this before. It happens twice a year, in the spring and in the fall, so you pay no further attention. But wait! Take a better look. Stand and observe for a while. Ever wonder why they fly in such precise formation? Ever seen the pattern change from time to time? Do you stop to wonder why? Let me tell you a story about these Canada geese. Allow me to draw a good lesson for us as Christians out of their precision.

There is a good reason why these geese fly in a V formation. The flapping of each goose’s wings creates uplift for the goose behind him. It has been proven scientifically that the V formation allows each bird to fly 71 percent further than if it were flying by itself. The wind velocity created by the wings of the company of geese helps the momentum of each individual goose. If a goose falls out of formation, it lags behind. It has lost the strength of the other geese.

The lesson here, as brought out in Galatians 6:2, is that Christians helping Christians make for greater spiritual strength. We are admonished to “bear one another’s burdens.” If we try to “make it on our own”, we are more likely to fail. Just like with a goose that falls out of formation, we feel the drag of trying to do it alone. But when this happens with the geese, the one who has fallen out quickly moves back into line to take advantage of its fellow geese’s support. What a good lesson for us. If we do fall out of formation with other Christians, we feel the drag of the world pulling us down. We must quickly get back in line so that the strength of our Christian sisters and brothers will create an uplift for us. Our fellow Christian’s thrust will help support us.

Another lesson we can learn from the geese: Geese take turns offering leadership. When the lead goose gets tired, he rotates back in the wing, and another goose takes the lead. Galatians 6:6 says, “Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.” Doesn’t that sound like what the geese do? We who are Christian leaders should not try to do all the work; and we who are just part of the Christian community should not just sit back, absorbing all the teaching and never giving back. We are admonished to share the responsibility. Be like the geese. Know when we are tired and drop back into the formation, letting someone else take his or her turn. If we do not share the work we will not get to our destination. If the lead goose were not willing to share the lead he soon would become so exhausted that he would be of no use to the rest. But by their sharing, no one goose becomes useless from exhaustion.

I remember when I was much younger we had the care of nine children. And I was also a Sunday school teacher, some of those children being in my class. I would be so exhausted by Sunday school time that I could hardly pull myself together. I approached the pastor, asking to be relieved of my teaching responsibility for a while. I told him I had little time for preparation, and felt that I was of no use as a teacher. He said, “You have had all your life to prepare. Why do you have to have special preparation to teach Sunday school?” What he told me was wrong. An exhausted Christian is of no use to others, and is not a good testimony. I was like the lead goose. I needed a rest. I needed to be supported by my fellow “geese” at that time.

A final lesson from the geese: This is very important. When a goose becomes ill, or becomes wounded and falls out of formation, two fellow geese fall out of formation and follow the ailing goose to help protect it, and to help support it. They will stay with the goose until he is restored, or until he dies. Then, and only then, will the geese set out again to find another formation to which they can join themselves. Galatians 6: 2 tells us to "bear one another’s burdens." Verse 9 tells us "not to grow weary while we are doing good, for we shall reap the benefits eventually."

Are we willing to sacrifice our time to help a hurting Christian? Or perhaps to spend sometime sitting by the bedside of a sick friend? Or perhaps we know a neighbor who is suffering from depression. Are we willing to go out of our way to help? Or perhaps to extend an invitation to that one for a Sunday supper? We will reap the benefits if we will do as the geese do. Support one another.

~ Helen Dowd ~
Copyright © 2006

[ by Helen Dowd Copyright © 2006, (hmdowd@telus.net) -- submitted by: Helen Dowd ]


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