Usually, the first signs of fall are visual: the leaves on trees start to redden, the fall asters begin blooming, and the sun is at a noticeably lower angle.
But sometimes you can hear the onset of fall.
Today at The Faith Cafe we could hear the sound of Canada geese honking at each other as they flew overhead, preparing to fly south for the winter. They’ll fly to warmer climes in their iconic V-formation, honking the whole trip.
But why do they honk at one another as they undertake their momentous journey, and why fly in a V-shape at all?
The lessons geese can teach us have long been used in leadership seminars, but I think they apply to our Christian walk as well.
The V-shape that Canada geese fly in actually has aerodynamic benefits to the flock. As each goose flaps its wings, uplift is created for the bird following it. By flying in a V-formation, the flock can add over 70% more flying range than if each bird was flying on its own.
As Christians, we’re all “flying” in the same direction, pointing others to Christ. We have a common purpose, to bring others into the Kingdom, and a common destination, our heavenly home. We’re more effective when we work together in Christian community, because we give one another “uplift” and turbocharge one another’s efforts.
When the goose at the point of the “V” gets tired, it drops back into the arms of the formation and lets another goose take over the lead role. From this we can learn that we need to be ready to spell each other off on occasion when the going gets tough. We need to share the tasks of Christian leadership, and make sure that the entire burden doesn’t fall on one person.
If a goose falls out of the formation, it will suddenly feel the resistance and drag of trying to fly alone. It’s the same with us: when we try to go it alone, we face headwinds that slow our progress. If we’re smart, we’ll get back into fellowship with other believers and accept their help.
On occasion, a goose flying in formation may get sick or wounded and have to land. When this happens, two other geese will drop out of formation and accompany the injured goose down to the ground. They’ll protect it until it’s able to fly again, then they’ll all catch up with the original flock or join another one.
This poignant act of brotherhood reminds us as Christians that we should bear one another’s burdens. We should stand alongside one another during difficult times, and never leave anyone behind.
“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10 ESV)
And what about the constant honking that the geese do while flying? Scientists believe that geese honk to encourage their fellows, particularly the leader at the apex of the “V”. The “words” of support from those behind encourage the geese at the front to keep up their speed.
As believers, we should do no less! Indeed, Scripture tells us to do so:
“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT)
“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13 NIV)
We can learn a lot from these birds: perhaps they’re not merely “silly geese” after all. Indeed, the lessons geese can teach us give new meaning to the old bumper-sticker:
“Honk if you love Jesus”!
© 2020 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.