"Forget the Duck" -- A Lesson in Grace and Forgiveness

Male mallard duckImage via WikipediaJust today I read a blog post by Tullian Tchividjian of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida that had a wonderful illustration about a duck.  It's an illustration of grace and forgiveness and, of course, a duck.

I tried to see if I could find where that story comes from.  It's been used by several different pastors and even by a Muslim website.  I did, however, find one source that actually lists a citation. 

Here's that version of the story along with a citation:

Richard Hoefler, in his book WILL DAYLIGHT COME? (1979, C S S Publishing Company), tells about two young children visiting their grandparents for the summer. Johnny was given his first slingshot. He practiced shooting in the woods, but missed everything he aimed at.

As he returned to Grandma's back yard, however, he spied her pet duck. It wasn't the only duck she kept, but it was her favorite. On an impulse he took aim and let it fly. This time he didn't miss. His stone struck and killed the duck.

The boy panicked. He didn't mean to hurt the bird -- he was even sure he'd miss! But he had killed it. His panic grew to desperation and he hid the duck in the woodpile, only to look up and see his sister. Sally had seen it all, but she said nothing to her grandparents.

After lunch that day Grandma said, "Sally, let's wash the dishes." Sally said, "Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen today. Didn't you Johnny?" She whispered to him, "Remember the duck." (Blackmailed by his sister!) So Johnny did the dishes.

Later Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing. Grandma said, "I'm sorry, but I need Sally to help make supper." Sally smiled  and said, "That's all taken care of, Johnny wants to do it." Again she whispered, "Remember the duck." Johnny stayed while Sally went fishing.

Johnny did both his chores and Sally's for several days, and could stand it no longer. He confessed to Grandma that he'd killed the duck.

She said, "I know Johnny." She gave him a big hug and added, "I was standing at the window and saw the whole thing. But because I love you, I forgave you. I just wondered how long you would let Sally make a slave of you."

His grandmother was more ready to forgive then he was even to ask for forgiveness. Similarly, we are surrounded by more grace than we may realize. But a disturbing inner voice often whispers, "Remember the duck. Remember the duck." Some people live their whole lives enslaved by the voice that says, "Remember the duck." They never let themselves be forgiven!

They don't know the meaning of deep peace. They are seldom free of guilt and feel as if happiness only comes to others more deserving.

What does it matter if the whole world were to love us, and accept us in spite of our failings, if we persist in feeling badly? Are you sick of feeling sick about the mistakes of your past?

Maybe it's time to forget the duck! After you've done all you can to rectify the past, then it's time to put it down. Forget the duck -- and be free.

We, as a people are so fond of "remembering ducks."  We hold onto our own sins and the sins of others like some trophies that we can't put down or scarlet letters we can't take off. 

I don't know what it is inside of me, but those closest to me know that I have a hard time offering grace to myself.  I can get all bent out of shape over sin in my life.  I have this innate desire to please and any failure hits me hard.  Again, I don't know why that's the case.  It just is.  Am I waiting on a more sincere repentance?  Why is it so hard just to accept the grace that Christ offers to us?

But then, for those of us inside the church, we need to be aware of how often we turn our faith into some sort of moral code that can't handle any wavering from the narrow road as outlined by the Bible or by our denomination or by our particular church.  Our scriptures are clear that God unconditionally forgives us.  He comes to us and dies for us. 

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:19, “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.” Our sins aren't counted against us.  They are counted against Christ.  It's an act of love.  It's an act of grace.  It is a free gift of love.

As in that song, "Freely, Freely:"

    God forgave my sin in Jesus' name
    I've been born again in Jesus' name
    And in Jesus' name I come to you
    To share His love as He told me to

    He said: 'Freely, freely, you have received
    Freely, freely give
    Go in My name, and because you believe
    Others will know that I live.'

So, why is it then that we are so good at "remembering ducks?"

Let's live as a people who forget the ducks.

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