Monday, January 25, 2010

Honk! Honk!

Today I saw several flocks of geese fly overhead and it reminded me of something that I once read about geese.

Have you noticed when geese fly they form up in a V-formation? Well it is not just because it is cool looking!

First, it conserves their energy. Each bird flies slightly above the bird in front of him, resulting in a reduction of wind resistance. This means that the lead goose is using more energy than the rest and some believe that’s why the rest of the geese honk – in part to encourage the lead goose to continue. Eventually the lead goose gets tired and this is the interesting part…

Another goose takes the lead and the tired goose falls back into the formation and rests within the support of the flock.

Sometimes a goose starts to fly out of the formation but quickly becomes exerted without the support of the group and flies back to rejoin group.

The authors of a 2001 Nature article stated that pelicans that fly alone beat their wings more frequently and have higher heart rates than those that fly in formation. It follows that birds that fly in formation glide more often and reduce energy expenditure (Weimerskirch, 2001).

In this way, the geese can fly for a long time before they must stop for rest.

The second benefit to the V formation is that it is easy to keep track of every bird in the group. Flying in formation may assist with the communication and coordination within the group.

Human pilots often use this formation for the same reason. The great bomber formations of B-17 Flying Fortresses in World War II were carefully crafted to make sure that each bomber supported each other.

What does this have to do with us? And why do I mention it in my blog?

Because we Christians are a lot like these geese and can learn a lot from them.

1. Find others that are on your same mission and support each other. That is why the early Church continued to meet in secret even though they feared for their survival. That is why Jesus sent out the apostles in pairs. The world is a difficult place. It is full of temptation and critics that ridicule our faith and would pull us from God if they could. We need encouragement to stay on this difficult journey.

2. Take your turn in leading and take your turn in resting. It is tiring to lead. Even when we are fired up with the spirit of God, sometimes we all get tired. As Jesus pointed out - The spirit is willing but the body is weak. And we all need to take our turns in leading. It is unfair to be the one that only receives. In being willing to step out of our comfort zone, we discover more about ourselves, give back to our church and discover the ironic truth that we do get back more when we are willing to give of ourselves.

3. Keep track of each other. One of the drawbacks of our mobility is that we live further away from each other. Even within our church, people are scattered – many times the only time we see each other is in church. It is easy to lose sight of each other, to be unaware of the troubles that each of us are facing. It is easy for individuals to feel alone and unwelcome in a room full of their brothers and sisters. Then they fall away and no one realizes that they have even left. We should make it a point to keep track of each other; it is our business to take care of our neighbor. When a person falls away from the group, it is easy for them to tire and to fall as prey to the world. It is not enough to bring people to Christ – we must also keep them!

We don’t know the time and hour of Christ’s return but we must be prepared for the long run.

Staying with the group, encouraging each other, and taking turns leading are the best ways to make sure that we all get to the end goal.

Honk! Honk!

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