I noticed something interesting when I brought bread for the ducks.
Some of them came right to the fence and received as much bread as they wanted (after all, bread crumbs don’t throw that far, no matter how strong you are).
Some swam across the pond and waded near the edge of the land. They got the scraps that bounced down the bank.
Some did not trust this strange looking meat eater hurling bread at them and remained in shelter across the pond. They did not get any bread at all. (I’m not good at panorama yet, so I’ll just describe that there were about 10 ducks that actually came on land, a few dozen circling in the water, and far too many to count on the far bank. If you view the image full size you can see some from each group.)
Does this sound familiar? It feels like a parable right out of the Bible, doesn’t it? Jesus calls all people to come to Him. We typically see 3 responses:
Some of us walk right up to Him and touch His robe to receive healing (Matthew 9:20), wash His feat (Luke 7:38), or just follow Him (Matthew 4:19).
Others get close, but not too close. We keep a safe distance so we have room to run if need be. Simply put, these are called lukewarm (Revelation 3:16).
The last group doesn’t even bother getting up. Be careful in interpreting this one. Its not who you think. These aren’t atheists, agnostics, or that “other” religion that seems to beat you to lunch every Sunday. Lets assume for a moment that all ducks are Christians. These would be the ones that know better and yet disobey anyway. These are the ones that sit back in judgement. These are the Pharisees and many, many, far too many of those are counted among Christians today. (2 Timothy 3:5)
Yes, there is risk in getting close to the fence. Dangerous predators, tricky humans, and being outside of your comfort zone. It could easily be the last mistake those ducks ever make. But if they could talk, I believe they would claim its worth it. They got their daily bread. Take a quick glance at Jesus who fed the multitudes. Who were the multitudes? They were the people who followed Him. He wasn’t beating down their doors and dragging them along. They chose to follow. And then He fed them.
This might not be the most theological nor deep reading you’ve ever encountered. But I hope, in your life, you can see how important it is to be at the feet of the true bread giver. Unlike myself with the ducks, Jesus can provide safety, love, and bread for life. Me, I just give stale bread (and a little love, the pants ducks are cute… the ones that look like Dockers logos). When Jesus says, “Come to me all who are weary…” that requires a response. You can’t just sit back in your comfort zone and receive the rest that is promised after.
Think of it as a transaction. If you come to me, then I will give you bread. If you stay there, someone else will get your bread. We always get caught up in the works/grace confusion. And I think this helps explain quite a bit. If “YOU” will do your part (going to the Lord), then He will fulfill His promises (so many wonderful promises). Who is doing it? God. Why is He doing it? Because you accepted it by following Him closely. Think of your getting up and following Him as a “YES!” answer to His question. And, conversely, when you do nothing you are responding, “Meh”. Gifts require accepting. We must reach out and take the gift. We must waddle over to the master and receive His blessings.
It’s scary to answer the call of Jesus. A fair portion of the world hates us (Mark 13:13), We operate by faith rather than sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), and we stand out awkwardly from the rest of the world (Romans 12:2). But the reward is absolutely worth it. Being near is reward enough. But much more awaits those that follow.
My favorite part about feeding the ducks? After a few days, they recognize me… and when I round the corner to head for the pond, they start running towards the fence yelling. That’s right, its noisy! I assume they are yelling, “BREAD!!!!!” Quite honestly, this is how I picture Christians. Simply put, they are only group number 1 mentioned above. They run to the Savior, singing His praise. There is no doubt, no hesitation, and no care for the risks because the risks are so worth it.
One final thought. Once enough ducks find out that the bread is good, eventually more ducks start coming closer, over time. The trust grows as the duck peers see more and more of those around seeking out the bread. This is where you come in. Step one is to follow Christ. But once you’ve tasted the sweet bread of life… its time to share. The call of Jesus is to ALL. Some of our brothers and sisters need some help to get across the pond.