Richard Exley Ministries

The Parable of the Geese
Posted on April 25, 2007

“Experience has taught me that in the early moments of temptation the way of escape is broad and easy to find.  The longer I delay, however, the narrower the way of escape becomes.” 

We have been flying since the first hint of daylight and the sun is now far down in the western sky as we circle the body of water far below us.  Though we have ridden a fierce north wind most of the day, weariness nonetheless makes our wings heavy.  Twice we have bypassed promising lakes after being alerted to danger by our experienced leader.  He is a magnificent bird well past his prime, but he can still fly with the best of the young geese.  He has been my mate for many winters.  For the most part we have had a good life – flying north to Canada in the spring to hatch our young, and then back south with the first hint of winter – but twice we lost offspring to the deadly guns of the hunters.

 Through the driving snow I now see a cluster of geese huddled against a marshy bank at the far end of the lake.  Being surrounded by grain fields, it promises not only a sheltered resting place but sustenance as well.  We will not find a better place to spend the night, of that I am sure.

 Mordecai leads us in a wide circle around the end of the lake and the adjoining field, alert for any sign of danger. Though I see nothing to cause alarm, I cannot shake a nagging sense of dread.  From the lake below comes the faint honking of resting geese.  It is the “all clear” signal, but I take no comfort in it, nor does Mordecai. 

 Well do I remember another day not much different from this.  We had ridden a cold front out of Canada and as the sun slid far down the curve of the earth we set our wings and began the long glide toward the water below.  We were about to touch down when two hunters emerged from beneath a sheet of white canvas with guns blazing.  Instantly Mordecai veered left, his wide wings clawing the heavy air as he fought for height.  Our first born was flying on his right wing, just behind him, in tight formation.  When Mordecai veered left he followed, taking the full load of shot intended for his father.  I watched in helplessness and rage as his lifeless body folded and plunged into the water below.  Other birds were dying, too, five in all, but I had eyes only for my firstborn.

 The hunters’ guns continued to boom a moment more, spitting orange flame and deadly shot into the indigo sky above the slate-colored lake.  I took a couple of pellets in one leg, sending a flash of burning pain to explode in my brain, but it was nothing compared to the awful ache in my heart.  Riding the winds I followed the others into the safety of the wide sky, but when they turned south I lingered behind.  After they were gone I continued to circle overhead, just out of range of the guns below.  I watched as the hunters began slapping each other on the back and shouting with glee before splashing through the frigid water to collect their prey.

 This is on my mind as Mordecai leads us in ever tightening circles, and on his as well, I am sure.  He has never been able to forgive himself for that earlier debacle; though what he could have done differently I do not know.  The fact that our first born took the shot intended for him has been nearly more than he can bear.   

Although everything appears to be in order, Mordecai hesitates still, generating a rumble of protests from some of the young males.  They resent Mordecai's caution, but those of us who have known the terror of the hunters’ guns appreciate it.  Suddenly Absalom, a two year old goose of magnificent proportions, breaks formation and begins a long glide toward the water below.  For a moment no one follows, then four or five of the younger birds give chase.  Mordecai hisses a stern warning while the flock emits a scolding chorus.  Both are ignored.

 As the renegade geese near the water the marsh grass seems to explode, ripping the pale evening sky with jagged apricot flashes.  Absalom takes a full load in his chest and collapses in a tangled mess of blood and feathers.  Behind him the young geese veer off in all directions, frantically pounding their wings in a desperate attempt to escape the hunters’ rain of death.  Some hug the water, while others seek the safety of the sky.

 Jonathan takes a hit in his left wing and lurches crazily before plunging into the lake.  Abigail is down, as is Esther.  Only Obadiah escapes and he carries pellets in his legs.  The hunters emerge from a well concealed blind clothed from head to toe in camouflage gear.  One of them spots Jonathan who is trying to hide in the tall marsh grass.  Taking aim he shoots him and Jonathan dies while we watch in stunned disbelief. 

 There is nothing we can do so Mordecai turns once more toward the south and we fall into formation, death having left several jagged holes.  Below us the hunters remove their decoys, collect the bodies of our fallen comrades, and troop across the field to their 4x4.    

As a boy I considered hunting geese a great sport, a rite of passage to manhood if you please, and I could hardly wait until I was old enough to go on my first goose hunt.  In preparation I read everything I could find on goose hunting.  I learned that the most successful goose hunters utilize blinds, decoys and goose calls.  The blind is constructed from materials indigenous to the area where they will be hunting.  Often it is prepared well in advance of hunting season so the geese can become accustomed to it.  On the day of the hunt the hunters usually arrive well before daylight.  Quietly they position their decoys so they resemble geese who are feeding or at rest.  Once they are in place, the hunters retreat into the blind where they are able to watch for incoming geese without being seen.  When a high flying flock is spotted one of the hunters uses a goose call to lure them in by imitating the "All clear" honk of the geese.

 By nature geese are wary and will circle for a long time before landing to feed.  As they circle they are constantly alert for anything that might signal danger – an unnatural goose call, a poorly positioned decoy, or the premature movement of a hunter in the blind.  The skillful hunter patiently works his goose call enticing the geese ever closer.  If he is successful in deceiving the geese they will eventually set their wings and glide toward the decoys.  Of course when they come within range the hunters begin shooting from their blind making short work of those magnificent birds.
 Now that I am grown I no longer think of hunting geese as sport, rather I see it as a parable of temptation.  Like the goose hunters of my childhood the tempter studies his unsuspecting prey.  With clever genius he builds his blinds and sets his decoys, ever luring the unsuspecting toward the trap he has prepared. 

With consummate skill the tempter creates a mesmerizing illusion. He positions his decoys in a place that offers the very things we need – i.e., food, shelter, and companionship. He does not necessarily entice us with bad things, at least not at first; rather, he tempts us to satisfy a legitimate need in an inappropriate way. Hear him as he whispers his beguiling lies:  "You will not surely die," he says, "but you will become like God.  You will be the master of your own destiny."

Experience has taught me that in the early moments of temptation the way of escape is broad and easy to find.  The longer I delay, however, the narrower the way of escape becomes.  Consider the parable of the geese.  When they first sight the decoys and hear the hunter's goose call escape is easy.  The whole sky is open to them.  However, once they come within range of the hunter's guns their options narrow.  Escape is still possible, but now they must flee through a hail of steel shot.  The moral of the goose story is simple: He who is serious about escaping temptation will act quickly.

If you were to liken your current spiritual condition to one of the geese which one would it be?  Are you like Mordecai – wounded but wiser?  Perhaps you have fallen prey to the tricks of the enemy in times past, but God has restored you.  Having learned from that painful experience you are now a wiser and more discerning person.  Maybe you see yourself as Jonathan – down but not yet out.  You have been wounded and the enemy is closing in but you still hope to be restored.  Or perhaps you see yourself as Absalom – a spiritual fatality.  As far as you are concerned it is too late for you.  All hope is gone.

 Don't despair!  Whatever your situation God has a word for you.  There is no sin He cannot forgive, no wound He cannot heal, no tragic mistake He cannot redeem, and no sin ravished life He cannot restore.


click this button to e-mail this article to a friend

Category: Morality