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