Enjoying my morning coffee and serene lake view, I sat unaware of the turf war soon to play out before me. Our backyard has become a feeding ground for birds and waterfowl. This particular May morning, an enormous black and white Muscovy duck slid across the water, landing in my grass. He meandered straight to the food spot, much to the dismay of the mallards who had already staked claim to this breakfast territory.
Possession is nine-tenths of the law, so they say.
I watched curiously as the mallard brood of seven responded to the intruder’s arrival by waddling back into the lake, swimming forty feet, then disembarking nearby. There these seven sweet, light brown ducks gathered to pace. Their bills opened and closed rapidly, as if in heated discussion. It was clearly a strategy session.
I imagined their conversation. “Who IS that new guy?” … “Did you see the schnoz on that brute?” … “What are we gonna do about him?” followed by “The nerve, who does he think he is? This is our lake and our dinner table. Humph.” Their distress was evident as they huddled, paced and quacked furiously.
Meanwhile, the fifteen pound black and white Muscovy brute wearing a tumor-like red eye mask, stood still, yet menacing in my yard. He was easily three times larger in size than a mallard, casting an intimidating presence. I nicknamed him Nasty Nose. Muscovies are a nuisance species because they are extremely prolific and capable of transmitting disease to wild waterfowl. The Muscovy drake stood sentry-like while the mallards sweated the intrusion of their habitat by this predator. Yet, the mallards merely retreated, doing nothing to defend or regain their territory.
Empathizing with the displaced mallards, I, too wanted my peaceful surroundings restored. Because their happiness feeds my sense of well-being, I took action on their behalf. Out into the yard I strode, in all my pajama-clad glory, waving two styrofoam pool noodles at Nasty Nose. “Shoo, shoo. Get out of here,” I hollered in between swirls and swishes of my styrofoam scepter. Off he flew, across the lake and over the housetops, hopefully never to return again.
In less than a minute, the mallards reclaimed their favored spot on my embankment, staying awhile to savor the victory before proceeding on their merry way. Order had been restored to the realm. The subjects were content while the benevolent noodle queen returned to her morning reading, satisfied.
Seeking the Lesson
As I contemplated the scene I just witnessed, I wondered, Why couldn’t these little game birds fight for themselves? Why wouldn’t they? Was their opponent’s size and appearance too intimidating? Did they know things about his reputation that I did not?
This nature drama reminded me of the importance of being a voice for the voiceless; helping those who are weak or powerless. Just as I took pleasure in acting as duck advocate, I thought about those who advocate for us, like police, EMT’s, firefighters, clergy, mental health counselors and social workers. They selflessly, often heroically face danger aiding and protecting others, working long hours and holidays for low pay. They are a voice for those who have none.
My thoughts then drifted higher to our Divine Advocate, Jesus, who although unseen, wages spiritual warfare on our behalf in the heavenlies, “for the Lord your God is He who fights for you, as He promised you,” Joshua 23:10 reminds us.
The Message version of the Bible names Jesus the “God of the Angel Armies” throughout the Old Testament, conferring intense strength as He commands vast resources on our behalf. We are His beloved and the God of the Angel Armies is with us, always and everywhere. Psalm 91:14-15 (NIV) tells us “Because he loves me, I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.”
It gives me profound reassurance to know I am spiritually defended by forces eminently more powerful than a styrofoam pool noodle. Selah.