HEARTLIGHTSpecial Feature

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whack and crunch of the duck hitting the underside of the car repeatedly.

    It isn’t easy to explain my next action — in fact it’s a little embarassing — but I have to try, or I can’t tell the rest of the story. You need to know me personally, and you need to understand they way I was brought up. In my family —

Nothing was ever wasted —
it was a sin to waste.

    I turned around and went back to pick up the duck so we could take it home and eat it. It was lying in a heap, sprawled out in obvious death in the middle of ten thousand feathers. I pulled up alongside, reached out my door, picked up the duck, laid it on the floor behind my seat, and headed home once again. I was driving a compact car. It was an Opel with bucket seats.

    Lincoln was very quiet as we drove, but completely alert. Normally, he would have been sound asleep after such a day, but the incident with the duck had totally captured his imagination. I noticed that he kept looking behind my seat. A few minutes later, he said,

    “Dad, do ducks have souls?”

    “No, Son, ducks don’t have souls.”

    “What happens to a duck when it dies?”

    “We eat it.”

    “I mean, where does it go?”

“What happens to a duck when it dies?”

“We eat it.”

    “It doesn’t go anywhere. It just isn’t anymore.”

    “Oh.” He thought for a few minutes and then he said, “Dad, is it okay to pray for a duck?”

    “I guess so, but why would you want to?”

    “I feel sorry for it.”

    He lapsed into a thoughtful silence, and I assumed that he was praying. He kept his eyes on the duck, and a few minutes later he spoke again.


    “What, Son?”

    “God just answered my prayer; that duck’s alive.”

    “God doesn’t do things like that anymore. The duck is dead.”

    A few minutes passed.

    “Dad? Why doesn’t God do things like that anymore?”

    “Because the age of miracles ceased when the apostle John died.”

    “Dad, are you sure of that? The duck is alive. I just saw it move.”

    “No, Son, the duck may have moved from the motion of the car, but that duck is not alive. I know you feel sorry for the duck, and I do, too, and I know you prayed for the duck; but we have to learn to accept bad things in life. The duck is dead. You heard it hit the car, didn’t you?”

It’s looking right at me.
    “Yes, but, Dad, the duck just moved again, and it’s not the motion of the car. It’s looking right at me.

    “Son, this has gone far enough. You musn’t allow your imagination to run away with you. I’ve told you that the duck is dead. It is dead! No amount of wishful thinking can bring it back. Trust me. I’m your father, and when I tell you that the duck is dead, you can believe me.

The — duck — is — dead!
Now, I don’t want to hear any more
about that duck;
do you understand?”

    “Yes, Sir.”


    “What was that noise?”

    “I think it was the dead duck, Dad.”

    I turned around, and sure enough, there was the duck, standing up and looking rather puzzled by its new surroundings.

    “Son,” I said, “the age of miracles just started again, because that duck was dead!”

    We took it home, fed it, found a marvelous place for it to stay — in our swimming pool, which was closed for winter anyway — and we named her (I guess it was a her) Gertrude. About a month later we went back to Frankenmuth. We took Gertrude and released her as near to the spot where we had found her as possible and went on our way.

    I learned a lesson from Gertrude the duck that day. I learned that I’m not always right. I learned that older isn’t always wiser; I learned that sometimes we allow our presuppositions to override obvious facts; and I learned that if I insist on being right and won’t even listen to another point of view, I might be forced to acknowledge my fallibility by a loud “Quack” of reality.

    The next time you feel compelled to stand your ground, no matter the facts, just remember Gertrude the duck, and relax a little. Learn the grace of laughing at yourself.

It really isn’t so bad to admit that you’re wrong —
once in a while.
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HEARTLIGHT(R) Magazine is a ministry of loving Christians and the Westover Hills church of Christ.
Edited by Phil Ware and Paul Lee.
Copyright © 1996-97, Heartlight, Inc., 8332 Mesa Drive, Austin, TX 78759.
© 1997, John William Smith. Excerpted from Hugs to Encourage and Inspire, Howard Publishing Company. Used by permission.