Bathtub Theology

We recently purchased a few Mallard duck chicks to add to our little pond at our house. My youngest, Abigail, loves all things small and fuzzy plus we needed more. We are down to two. At one time we had 14 including the four Chinese geese with the large plume on their head.

Well, you can’t just throw these little ones out to the wolves as they say, they are too small and inexperienced in the world to make it without Someone to help them and protect them. Fact is, I just saw a pack of foxes in the neighborhood a couple of nights ago, one momma and two pups. I bet you they would like to “play” with our tasty little ducklings.

So here is what we do when they are small and uninitiated — we put them in a bathtub and close the doors to keep the cats out. The bathtub is the world as they know it for these first few weeks. It is not the most inviting place to live but it is the best suited for their needs. It has high walls to keep them in, it is protected behind two doors to the outside enemies. We put drinking water and feed in the system and there is a built in sewage system via the faucets.

Not a perfect world but a simple utilitarian system that works till they are ready. Ready for what? Ready to enter into the world they were made for — Water World.

We too live in a world that is not well-suited to us. We have high walls which we cannot surmount in that we have limitations. We are largely vulnerable and have limited places we can get to besides perched atop some earthly foundation which supports us. We are easy prey to an enemy but for the doors (gates) that protect us and keep the enemy out and us in.

The bathtub is a cold place but we don’t really know that since we have not yet entered into a home that was made for us. There is food and drink available to us (most of us anyway) and most of us enjoy some form of sewage system.

But here’s the thing that struck me about the bathtub. When you go into visit the ducks they are most fearful, and rightly so because they are literally “sitting ducks” trapped and defenseless. They feel totally unprotected without means to find a shelter or the ability to run to a safe-place.

And that is how we are brought into the world. Of course we have our father and mother (hopefully) and they will protect us with a fierce guard but they are not always there throughout our lives; we leave the nest often sooner than we are ready and go out to make it on our own. These ducks too were separated from their mother and instinctively fearful of all that is out there.

These ducklings were in the world, (the bathtub) but not of the world (they were made for water places). Well, I have taken on the role of duck-keeper since my daughter has gone to visit her step-grandmother for a week. I know the routine of getting the ducks out of the bathtub, cleaning it and then putting them back again with fresh water and food.

This morning however I decided to give them a little treat. I caught them, (no small task), and put them in a box while I ran the water to clean it. Then I put on the stop to keep the water in the tub and filled it with a lukewarm water to a depth that was deep enough for them to swim in.

You might not ever fully appreciate the saying “like a fish out of water” till you see the difference between a duck out of water and a duck in the water.

These little ones took about two seconds to come alive, once they found their water world and what their webbed feet were made for. Instantly they went from fearful to frolicking. It was like the old was gone and the new had come. They were in duck heaven. No longer did they cower in the corner, and chirp their alarms. They moved about winsomely and cheerfully, playing and joyfully inhabiting their new world.

It was not long before they were splashing the water on their head and on each other. They were zipping around like speed boats, stretching their nubby wings, kicking like a they were running a sprint in their little paddle boats. Soon after they were diving and swimming under the water like torpedoes with a mission. I don’t know how to tell for sure but their little beaks seemed to have these giant smiles from ear to ear. They were a happy and joyous lot. I felt like a mother bird who pushed her fearful fledgling out of the nest and then saw the exhilaration of that one as it learned that it could, like the children from Peter Pan, fly. “We can fly, we can fly!”

Yes, ducks were made for water (remember the story of Brer Rabbit and the briar patch) and water was made for ducks and fish and a whole host of other denizens and inhabitants. I have had the joy of learning about the duck-water relationship first hand as we have launched these puppies on a number of occasions into their world of water.

Some things I have observed: A duck is totally secure in their water world. If something threatening comes at them from the water surface, they simply put the pedal-to-the-metal and out run them on top of the water. If something comes from above they just dive and torpedo to a new location (I’ve seen them hold their breath for up to 2 minutes!). If something comes toward them from beneath they just flap their wings and lift themselves above the surface, often running across the surface of the water to a new safer place, or just totally take off and fly to the land nearby.

Water is duck heaven. In water they live and move and have their being. When they first got in that tub with the water running they went straight for the downpour of the spigot and got under it, gliding back and forth under the water-flow. Wouldn’t you like to be a duck sometime? You can! God is your water world. In Him you live and move and have your being. Just as the branch cannot live without the vine, so you were made for the water of God.

God is our Water, the Word is our Water. In Him we have Life. So go ahead, jump right in, all the way in. Soon you will resemble those little ones, your fears will flee and the stress of this world will fall right off you like water from a ducks back.