I recently read a piece that was published in an old edition of the Springfield Oregon Public Schools newsletter. It was a word picture or parable that caused me to pause and reflect on my life today. It went something like this:
“Once upon a time, the animals decided they should do something meaningful to meet the problems of the new world in which they lived. And so, a duck, a squirrel, a rabbit and an eagle decided to put their combined wisdom together, organizing a school for learning. They settled on running, climbing, swimming, and flying as essential parts of their core curriculum.
The duck was an excellent swimmer. In fact, better than his instructor. But, he only made a passing grade in flying, and was very poor at running. But because he was slow in running, he had to drop out of swimming so he could practice running. And doing all that work on his running? It caused his web feet to become so badly worn and painful that he was only average in swimming after that. Since average was acceptable, nobody worried about his grade in swimming — nobody except the duck.
The rabbit started at the top of his class in running, but he developed a nervous twitch
in his leg muscles because of all the time he spent trying to compensate for his poor performance in swimming.
It turned out that the squirrel was excellent in climbing, but no matter how he applied himself, gravity’s laws made flying impossible. His teacher’s insistence that he always start from the ground up rather than from the treetop down made progress impossible. He ended up only getting a C in climbing and a D in running. (No one wanted to mention to the squirrel that he flunked flying altogether.)
The eagle’s keen eyesight may have been the greatest challenge for him. In the first place, he noticed every shortcoming all the other animals had. Flying was so easy for the eagle that he couldn’t understand why all the other animals had such a problem with it. He soared above them, looking down on the other animals painfully practicing or trying to learn how to swim. In climbing classes, he beat all the other animals to the top of the tree, with a few flaps of his wings. No contest for the eagle.
One obvious lesson to be learned from this simple parable isn’t too difficult to grasp. A duck is a duck — and only a duck. A duck is built to swim, not to run or to fly and certainly not to climb. And a squirrel is a squirrel — and only a squirrel. The design of a squirrel makes climbing trees a breeze. But don’t ask a squirrel to run like a rabbit. He’ll lose that foot race every single time. And if the eagle has the eyes to see it, he will realize that he has feathers that others have never been blessed with. No, at least one obvious lesson to be learned from this simple parable isn’t too hard to see.
In 1 Cor. 12, the Apostle Paul clearly outlines the importance of the variety of spiritual giftings God has chosen to bestow on Christians. And he makes sure to point out that the differences in those giftings was intentional. The Body of Christ is made up of many and varied members. If we were all “eyes” and not “hands,” it would be very difficult to do the work that only a hand can do. The value — the eternal and God-determined value — that each member of the Body of Christ brings to the task of caring for a lost world can never be underestimated. “The eye,” says Paul in v. 21, “can never say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’ the head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you.'”
In all the world, there is only one ‘me.’ I am unique and totally gifted to accomplish the works God had in mind when He thought of me. The question — the haunting and yet assuring question I need to ask myself is not, “If God made me a squirrel, why can’t I swim like a duck?” No, the question I need to honestly address in my life on a regular basis?
“Since God has equipped me with the wonderful wings He thought I needed for success — what can I do to see that reality with eyes that are keen as any eagles?”