Have you ever seen ducks swimming in a row? You have momma duck leading the pack, and the little ones following in a line right behind her. I found myself thinking about these ducks and why they swim in a row this morning. The reason why baby ducks follow their momma in a row behind her is for their own safety and protection. If one of the little ducklings is slow, or wanders off from the line, mamma duck is sooner to notice than if they were scattered around. She can easily swim and get her little one back in line, and the little one stays close to mamma for protection.
In business, and in life, we hear the saying “getting our ducks in a row” often. In life this means that we are getting our things in order, our “to do” lists and other business we are lining up so that we can stay on task and on point. But I wondered today what exactly it meant to get your ducks in a row. So, I looked it up. Interestingly enough I found that “get your ducks in a row” really has nothing to do with our feathered fowl at all, but instead is a naval term used in shipbuilding.
“Now when the wall had been built and I had set up the doors, and the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed, I gave my brother Hanani and Hananiah the governor of the castle charge of Jerusalem, for he was a more faithful and God-fearing man than many. And I said to them, ‘Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot. And while they are still standing guard, let them shut and bar the doors. Appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, some at their guard posts and some in front of their own homes. The city was wide and large, but the people within it were few, and no houses had been rebuilt. Then my God put in into my heart to assemble the nobles and the officials and the people to be enrolled by genealogy.”
Nehemiah 7:1-5a (ESV)
Nehemiah 7:1-5a (ESV)
When I read these words I got a picture of Nehemiah taking inventory of all that is around him, all that has been done and all that is left to do. The Lord God puts it into Nehemiah’s heart to take a census of all the people. The Lord tells Nehemiah to get his ducks in a row. Building a pet care business, means that my ducks are going to look like building permits, and zoning laws, and state regulations; your ducks are going to look like something else. What I think the Lord is showing us is that no matter what our ducks look like, we need to take stop and take inventory of our needs. Where are we at in this process, and where do we want to go, has the need changed? I need to get together all our resources and gather the information I need to take the next steps on this journey. I need to find out about zoning laws, and permits, and licenses and all that other stuff that goes into the bare bones of any good ship. I need to make sure my ducks are lined up perfectly before I try to build anything on them. Otherwise, this ship is going to sink.
In this next step on our new adventures we need to piece together the skeletons of our dreams, line them up and set them in place. You don’t build a boat from the outside in; you build it from the inside out. Nehemiah took an inventory of the who, what and where. He knew that even though the wall was built, the city was in need of repair, for there were not even houses built yet. Remember in Chapter 2 when Nehemiah went and inspected the wall, gathered up information and took a count of his resources? He does it again in regards to the dream for his city.
This next step in our new adventure is going to require a lot of our time and energy. As I was praying this morning about all that the Lord was showing me about our ducks, I was reminded of a scripture passage in Luke.
“For which of you, desiring to build a tower does not first set down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish all who see it begin to mock him saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’”
Luke 14:28-30 (ESV)
Luke 14:28-30 (ESV)
We are going to have to count the cost for these next steps on our journeys. Nehemiah saw the city and the houses of his beloved city still in need of help. His dream of restoring Jerusalem to its former glory was not yet complete. So, instead of diving in head first and pouring the foundations for the houses, he made time to count the cost. Taking a census of people can take weeks, months and even years. It is not something that is done in a few days. This was not an easy task either because many of the people didn’t even know exactly what family or tribe they came from. Nehemiah had to give up and sacrifice his time for the sake of his dream. Are we willing to do the same for ours?
We must be willing to sacrifice and give up what holds us back in order to reach the end of our adventures. Jesus reminds us that before we go and build anything we must first set down and count the cost, getting all our ducks in a row. Find out what it is you will need; what steps you have to take next, and so on. Make a list and lay it all down before the Lord. He knows what we need, He is the Architect of this journey we are on, and He will show us what we need to do and where we need to go. After we have done all this, we need to count the cost of what it is going to take from us, personally, such as our time, our devotion, our energy. Are we willing to do whatever it takes to reach the finish line, and see our dreams fulfilled? Think and pray about this, fast and pray if you are so led. You don’t want to pour the foundations then have to walk away because you decided thesacrifice was too great. Depending on what type of ship you are building, that can get expensive!
This adventure we are on is going to require our dedication, our determination and most of all it is going to require the sacrifice of our time. If we want to continue, we need to count the cost. This truth can be applied to every single area of our lives as well. Any commitment, before we enter into it, must be considered and thought through- are we willing to do whatever it takes to reach success? Are we willing to put in the work for our marriages, our careers, our families, and our dreams? We must count the cost; otherwise there is no point in pouring the foundations, or lining up the ducks. Count the cost, take inventory and trust that God has brought you this far, He will continue with you. Get your ducks in a row; otherwise this ship you are building will end up at the bottom of the ocean. Amen.