The summer had come and gone and we were easing into the cooling down phase of the fall. I’m always interested not just in the change of the seasons but the changing of location. For so many of our feathered friends, Mississippi is one of the interstate highways for so many migratory birds headed from up north to their long journey across the Gulf. It is a beautiful thing to watch so many species of birds coming through, many of them with gorgeous colors on display and others just unique because of their size, shape or song. Two types of birds get my attention more than all the rest of them put together – the hummingbirds and the large, Canada geese. I love the hummers who come and stay and are attracted to the feeders I put out all summer long. And then one day, generally in September, they and all their buddies who come to join them in their flight across the Gulf are gone. The Canada geese on the other hand come in waves of Vs and Ws headed south. In clusters they stop at ponds and lakes and feeding places to get all loaded up with nourishment for the big flight ahead.
The pond near my neighborhood seems to be a place of good feeding and safety and attracts a number that spend a little time with us and move on, except for one guy this year. I watch these beautiful big birds and am fascinated with how they eat and protect each other and are able to fly. But in this migration season I noticed one who was obviously injured. He limped to one side and his wing seemed to be bent upward and so I tried to investigate closer to see what his problem was. And though I could not get very close, I could see there was a real dilemma. This goose had a broken wing. Immediately my desire was to try to help him. As you might expect, he was not open to my offers. I spoke softly, tried to explain to him that I would not harm him at all but I would help him. He was not a trusting soul. He limped away faster and probably in pain and though I stopped, he kept moving as quickly as he could to get near the water and in the water and away from me.
He could swim pretty good but he even limped some when he swam. Day after day it was the same. I would try to gently approach him and he would with great determination get away. Almost every day the thought was a reoccurring one in my mind. It’s hard to help a goose when the goose doesn’t want to be helped. At one point I thought how dumb geese are but almost in the same moment thought well, they’re just like us. For so often people will want to help people but the people needing help don’t want to be helped. They are not dumb. They’re just not real sure about those who are offering to help.
I diagnosed this goose’s problem early on and as time wore on I was more confident than ever that my diagnosis was right on target that he had a broken wing. Anybody seeing him a time or two would know that he’s the goose with the broken wing. He became the topic of conversation around the neighborhood and all of us knew he had a broken wing. Invariably the conversation would turn to how did he break his wing. Nobody knew but there were a number of theories about how he got in that condition. Somebody had shot him and not killed him but broke his wing. I would say that the majority of people that I talked with thought that he probably got hit by a car or truck or some vehicle. I wondered if maybe this big strong bird had gotten attacked by some hungry animal.
None of us knew, but that is a major piece of being a human being. For we have always got to find out, how did you get in the shape you’re in? It’s a common form of discussion among most of us and surely in spiritual circles we all want to know, how did that guy or that gal get in that shape? It was the topic of discussion by the disciples whenever they found the man who was born blind (John 9). Jesus healed him. You remember the disciples wanted to discuss, how did he get into this shape? Did he sin or did his parents sin? That’s a fascinating thing to stop and contemplate because the man’s parents could have been living a wicked life and in the minds of many disciples God would zap them and give them a child with a handicap. More interesting is the fact that they said that he sinned. He was born blind so when is this sin going to take place that got him in this mess? Can you sin when you’re being formed in your mother’s womb, or they thought there’s reincarnation and that he had messed up? What were they thinking? But Jesus pointed to something greater, more significant, and that is that you don’t have to understand how a person got into the condition they are in, what you need to know and what I need to keep in mind is that God wants to do something in their life so that the miracle of God can take place in their life.
You and I need to share His saving, healing, restoring grace. That is the point of the apostle Paul when he writes in Galatians 6:1 and says, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Whatever that fault might be, if you’ve messed up, blown it, broken it and you’re in a terrible situation with a broken wing, the need is for somebody to come and help or as the verse says, “Ye which are spiritual, restore such an one.” You and I are the people God called to help the ones with a broken wing because somebody helped us when we were flopping around. Ultimately, God Himself alone can help us, but He has so many of His servants ready to join in and lift or carry or walk with those whose wings are broken.
I think of the one that was left at the pond with the broken wing. All of his friends had gone on but still he needed help, and you and I can be one of those ready to respond and help. One lady who is always feeding the ducks made sure there was plenty of corn just for this one with the broken wing. Others loved and reached out, talked and called to see what might could be done, pretty much to no avail, but they cared. And whether you know it or not, if you live long enough, you will experience it, that caring goes a long way in life.
Next time you go to church just look around over the congregation and you probably will see birds in that flock who have a broken wing and need somebody who will care. Better yet, before you leave home to go to church, pause for a minute and look in the mirror and recognize that there have been significant times in your life when you were the bird with a broken wing and you needed help. You are God’s chosen servant to, in some way to somebody today, do what the Scripture says when it says, “Bear ye one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2). Help your brother or sister who has a broken wing and so fulfill the law of Christ.