I read something a couple of weeks ago about how God transforms us from ugly ducklings into beautiful swans. I related to the ugly duck in the illustration; feeling untransformed with SOOO far to go before I am truly beautiful.
Later that same night, while on the phone with my mother, I stopped at Food Lion to pick up a few groceries. As I stepped out of my car and nearly onto a little rubber ducky that was right outside my car door, I chuckled out loud. My mother questioned why I was laughing and I told her the story that was still fresh in my mind. When I told her I felt God had left the duck to confirm what I was thinking, she said that didn’t make sense. I was, in her estimation, the beautiful swan.
I mumbled something about feeling like the ugly duckling and picked up the toy and tucked it into my purse.
I know the Bible verses that speak of the truth of our transformation and new life in Christ. I’ve read numerous books on how to discover your true beauty and feminine identity in Christ; I’ve fasted until my hair was falling out by the handfuls; prayed until my vocal cords were strained; stayed awake countless nights on my face praying for deliverance; listened to Joyce Meyer tapes until I could recite her sermons from memory; been a part of eGroups, small groups, self-help groups; attended church Sunday morning, Sunday night and then again on Wednesday; served the homeless; practiced hospitality; interceded for my family and friends; and spent hours soaking in the Presence of God in personal communion, repeatedly, for years and years.
Yet, I still struggle to walk in the full conviction of God’s love for me or in the full authority of my position in Christ. Many days I still feel like an ugly duckling longing to be a beautiful swan or a Cinderella, an unwanted servant, dreaming of the day God will rescue me and make me the princess I long to be.
I definitely still struggle with all kinds of mental and emotional hang-ups.
I have days when I experience shame over my personality, my looks, my job, my mistakes and weaknesses, my very self.
I am sometimes selfish and self-absorbed.
Fast forward to this past Sunday: After cleaning my room my eyes fell on the rubber duck, sporting a sheriff’s badge (I knew there was something to this detail, but what?) sitting on my mantle and I thought, “I need to just throw that away instead of leaving it there as a constant reminder of how I don’t measure up.’
I began to pray, “When I have become the swan that I know you want me to be, show me a swan as a sign that I have been transformed.’
‘Oh, and God, make it obvious!’
During the church service later that night our preacher broadcasted via satellite the pastor and congregation of one of our new campuses that just opened. Out of the blue, our preacher asked what the new campus pastor was wearing, likely referring to what was all over his shirt.
He started to explain that he had rolled up his jeans, to which our preacher interrupted him to let him know he was referring to his shirt. It was such a random off subject thing and I knew the minute that he answered, ‘Geese,’ that it was my sign. I wish I had the video clip! I don’t know how it was worded, or even how it came about, but somehow our preacher directed the congregation to begin flapping their wings like geese taking flight. In unison, thousands of people, including myself, spread our arms and began flapping them like wings.
Wow! Realizing this was my sign, I slid out my phone to google, ‘What is the difference between geese and swans?’ The first answer I pulled up was this:
What stood out to me was, “Swans are usually fairly awkward on land, and are either white, black or black and white. And about geese, ‘They are comfortable walking on land… and there is a variety of colors…’
By the end of our pastor’s sermon these definitions spoke volumes to me as to why God chose to represent to me what I had become in the form of a goose instead of a swan. He preached about the crippled by the pool of Bethesda, with a different perspective than I have ever heard on this story.
Most people will have heard how this man didn’t take responsibility for having not made it first into the pool for healing, even after 38 years as a cripple, or how he seemed to be full of self-pity.
It’s easy early on in our walk with God to assume a person that has been saved for a time should be doing better than they are, walking in more healing and greater levels of glory or moral character. But with experience we begin to understand that when someone has been crippled for years and years, when they have been a victim of abuse, or suffer from mental disorders, come from generation after generation of family dysfunction, or whatever else, they can’t just stand up on their own.
Should I be further along in my walk with God? I think so, and so I ‘try’ harder, which leads to me realizing how helpless I am to change myself and feelings of defeat.
Jesus asks, “Do you want to get well?’
The man’s excuses didn’t stop Jesus from healing him. The length of time he had been in that condition didn’t faze Jesus either.
The pool of Bethesda is surrounded by 5 covered colonnades and is recorded in the 5th chapter of John.
Five is the number of grace.
I know there are things in my thought processes that aren’t ‘normal,’ and have wondered if God will ever change my brain chemistry to work the way that I want it to in order to make surviving life easier for me, but I am learning to accept that only by His grace and on his Word can I can pick up my mat (carry with me the things from my past that represent the crippled that I once was) and walk. Maybe it’s not meant for me to leave all signs of my past struggles behind. Jacob had his limp; Paul his ‘thorn in the flesh.’ But God’s grace is sufficient. And I am healed. God showed me clear as day.
Contrary to how I sometimes view myself, I am not walking with God ‘awkwardly.’
Could it be God was showing me I am better equipped (in all my obvious weakness) to walk with God then if I appeared more perfectly beautiful like the swan?
Geese are more colorful then the swan; maybe the pace of my healing, and my flaws aren’t as black and white as the enemy would have me believe?
In the service God revealed the mystery of the ‘sheriff’ badge on my little ducky. I had begun viewing myself through the eyes of the law again. (long battle) As long as we measure ourselves by the standard of the law we will always come up short and feel like ugly ducklings.
On the way home from the service I was telling Forrest about all that God was speaking to me and we drove by a set of swans. I knew God was pointing out that we are both transformed by the grace of God and told him as much.
We all are! Our pastor called the whole congregation to flap their wings. As believers we are all given a measure of faith.
Faith gives us wings to fly.
By faith, through grace, we are new creations in Christ; precious and perfect in His sight, right now where we are.