The Formidable Wings Of A Gander

Saturday, February 28, 2015
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Listen while you read: "His Yoke Is Easy"1 (Lyrics)

Psalm 36:7 – How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. (NIV 2011)

The wings of a bird readily suggest the gentle, protective qualities of God. In His "wings", we find security and safety. Yet these wings can convey a different image of God, which I realized one day while watching some Canada geese.

It was a calm summer day. My two granddaughters were standing on the dock with me, chatting quietly. A family of Canada geese was leisurely swimming nearby. Suddenly, our peace was rudely interrupted by a loud ruckus in the water. Our heads jerked towards the commotion, and we found ourselves watching a high-tension drama.

The gander was frantically flapping his wings and honking with feverish pitch. We watched him propel through the water like a bullet targeted for two nearby Canada geese. Obviously, the two had come a little too close to the gander's family. The angry gander honked and hissed, protruding his neck low to the surface. His formidable wings smashed the water. The two geese wisely swam away.

Then, the gander swam back toward his family, but with neck still protruding. Suddenly, he lifted his body high in the water, buoyed by his wildly flapping wings. He was obviously pronouncing a stern warning: Don't anyone dare come near my little ones!

While watching this, I warned the children, "You don't want to mess with that gander when he's protecting his family. He's dangerous. His wings could break your bones." I thought of the geese on my childhood farm, and I remember the terror I felt when an angry gander charged at me. That instilled in me a "holy" fear of ganders. Now I was passing this "holy" fear on to my granddaughters — for their good.

I thought of the biblical command to fear God that explains how a fear of God benefits us: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." (Proverbs 9:10a NIV) This is not about the experience of anxiety or trepidation; it's about possessing an acute consciousness of God for who He really is. We can agree that having a good sense of ganders helps us to act wisely when around geese. This is a good, healthy fear. Why? Because it keeps us a safe distance from harm and allows us to enjoy geese without feeling afraid.

But here, the way of ganders departs from the way of God. A gander's instincts are not bent towards mercy and grace — certainly not for outsiders, potential enemies. A fear of ganders keeps outsiders at a safe distance. On the other hand, a fear of God draws "outsiders" into His fold where they find forgiveness and security in His love — and freedom from fear, as expressed in the hymn, "Amazing grace":

    'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
    And grace my fears relieved.

As we trust in God's lavish grace, we come to respect the power of His "wings". We are not afraid.

A fear of God keeps us from straying into harm's way. It protects us from the damaging effects of anxiety or bitterness. It keeps us from taking vengeance into our own hands, and in that way bringing harm upon ourselves.

Before I finished thinking about the fear of God, the gander had returned to his former tranquil mood, keeping quiet vigil. That day, a little flock of goslings had found refuge in the shadow of their father's wings. Yet, through those same wings, two other geese had experienced that father's wrath.

Psalm 97:10b – For [the Lord] guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked. (NIV)

Prayer: O Lord, deepen our respect for the power of Your love so that we may grow increasingly secure in the shadow of Your wings. Amen.

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About the author:

Diane Eaton <>
Paisley, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Good application Diane.

    Well written and wise advice. Thank you, Diane.

    Diane – What a beautiful picture of a God to fear; yet, a God who protects at the same time. I loved the analogy.

    Thanks, Diane,
    Really appreciate your inspirational devotions.

    A great message woven into your story.
    Thank you.

    Dear Diane, you are so right. It has been my experience that we are out of the protection of our father’s wings we think back on what we learned as a child and think our ideas have more merit than the “old man or woman who was our teacher in our youth. Now our children are in their forties and we parents are in their 70’s. The educatiion we taught our children—–what do we know in the year 2015.about how life is in the year 2015.

    I grew up on a farm and remember when I was about 3 years old and I picked up a gossling and the gander charged me and jumped on my back. My mother was right there and hit that gander with something that was nearby and yelled at me to drop that gossling. I guess I must have because the gander left me to see if his baby was ok. My parents never had geese after that season. My mother often told me that the gander with such strong wings could have killed me. Yes very scary and you learn respect for parents of other species. Thanks for your devotional.

    Good morning Diane,
    I awakened early this morning, checked to see what good devotional was waiting for me to enjoy to start my day. What should I encounter but Canadian geese fighting. What an excellent devotional you gave to start my day.
    Annually the Canadian geese flock to our town in the high desert of So. California where we have a huge Naval Weapons Base, thousands of open acres. The geese spread out over large areas, making it look like the land is covered with snow, a beautiful sight since we rarely ever get snow, not one day of it this winter.
    The eagle is my favorite bird that is very spiritual to me. My husband used to tell me that I was the wind beneath his wings. I would tell him that he was the wind beneath my wings, and he would say, “we’ll fly together.”
    Thank you Diane for giving me a good start for the day and it’s a beauty. May the Lord bless you abundantly.

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