My husband Frank and I live in a flat area where walking is ideal as an evening pastime. Our usual course takes us along well-manicured yards filled with an abundance of flowers. Birds are everywhere and challenge our right to be in their territories. It's refreshing to drink in the natural beauty--both visual and audible.

One evening we walked down a side street that led to a small stream with birds in abundance. There we found a special surprise--two mother ducks and their respective progeny. There were four young in each brood. One group was more mature and already getting feathers. The other ones were still fuzzy and called to their mother with immature peeps from their perch on a rock. She came right to them and they jumped clumsily into the water, peeping wildly. They swam away, content to be in the presence of their mother.

I don't know what is so appealing about the ducklings. It could be their downy bodies or the cute little bills. It might even be the way they rear up and go into overdrive when they think they are being left behind. We both instantly fell in love with these little duck families. It was hard to wait until our walk the next evening. We started later than usual and it was almost dark. As we looked, we saw the mother sitting on the grass with one wing totally extended. There seemed to be a bit of tussling taking place underneath. We chuckled and watched more intensely. Somehow, the jockeying for position got too wild and one duckling ended up outside. He peeped and tried to get back in. Nothing happened. He peeped more intensely and started butting at the extended wing. His mother felt and heard him. She stretched her wing even farther out and lifted it a bit so he could get underneath. Half of the duckling was still outside but with a little pushing and shoving, it all worked out. Mama duck pulled her wing back up a little, completely enveloping the fuzzy little peepers. They were safe. No one or nothing could get to them without having to deal with the mother first. They could rest securely, close to her heart--safe, snug, and warm. The mother duck did not rebuke the straying duckling. She just pulled him in more closely to her.

Frank and I snuggled up to one another. It was a very touching moment. I was able to see the heart of God as I watched that mother duck. When darkness or danger comes, He pulls us under His protection. He does not chastise. We can rest at the heart of God, safe from all harm. No one or nothing can get to us without going through Him. Sometimes our own immature straying or jockeying for position puts us out into harm's way, but He is always willing to lift the wing and draw us more closely to Him. From a touching scene of mother-love came an amazing revelation of God's love and protection.

Scriptures (all NIV):

"May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge"(Ruth 2:12).

"Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings"(Psalm 17:8).

"He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart"(Psalm 91:4).