I’m not very familiar with the migratory habits of geese. All I know is that two landed in my front pond several months ago and today four flew away. I don’t blame them, for as I write this lesson on July30, it is 105 degrees outside. I remember early in the spring when the gander and his mate flew into our pond. They made a rather significant honking noise which could be heard far away. There they were gracefully swimming in the pond. It took a few days, but they finally began to explore the territory around the pond. What elegance as they cautiously strutted around! The shades of brown in their feathers were so vivid. A Canadian goose is simply a very beautiful bird. The male stands guard and looks about as the female grazes, then she becomes the sentry while the gander eats. If they only knew they had nothing to fear from us; but that is their nature and I was in no position to change it. At first, as we would drive down our driveway, the birds would keep their distance and gradually make their way toward the safety of the water. But as time passed, they seemed to be more at ease with us. Each morning they were out front, walking around and making a beautiful spectacle of themselves. They would fly around the neighborhood – I guess to scope out the other ponds and terrain – but they would always return to our pond.

One morning we saw two baby chicks with the pair of geese. The chicks are not so beautiful yet -just a bunch of fuzz on a plump little body – like in the story of the Ugly Duckling. But as the days passed, the chicks took on the appearance of their parents. It was so informative to watch this family. They walked everywhere together. They visited our back pond, they walked to my neighbor’s pond, they had regularly swimming lessons wherever they went. It was obvious that the parents were intent on instructing their young in all the nuances of first being a land goose. The time for flying had not yet come, but the chicks were getting much larger and more beautiful. I could get rather close to them at times, but they always made certain of their way of escape to the pond. Last week I noticed something new in their activities. The parents would run along the ground flapping their wings for short distances at first, then for longer distances. The chicks were right by their side flapping their wings also. This went on for several days, but never did they “take off” into the air. Today they did. All four flew away. I guess when a bird begins to fly, nature takes over, and no more practice is needed. I don’t know where they went, but if it were me I’d head north to cooler lands! They are gone for now, but maybe they’ll return next spring. I hope so! I can’t prove it, but I think this pair of geese visited us and raised a family at our pond two years ago.

There are so many aspects of this event that are worthy of a lesson from the farm. I think of the parental training which took place, the cautions the geese took to be on guard against predators, and their ultimate mission to fly away. So, for now, I will focus only on this last point. The geese were here a little while and then they were gone. That is our story also; we are here a little while and then we are gone. The Bible says that we “are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:15). However, for the believer in Jesus Christ there is good news about this. In the earliest days of the church, Christians believed that Jesus would come back in their lifetime. After all, He said he would come back from heaven (John 14:1-3), and they understood that to mean real soon. Then some of these people began to die, yet Jesus had not returned. Great grief, sorrow, and perplexity came upon the living believers about losing their loved ones, so the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to address this problem. Read 1 Thess. 4:13 – 5:12 for the whole story. While the context is designed to bring comfort (I Thess. 4:18) to the living about this issue, several important truths can be gleaned to help us understand about those who “fly away.”

  1. Only in Christ is there eternal hope (I Thess. 4:13).
  2. Those who sleep (die, “fly away”) are taken immediately to Christ in the spirit, because He brings them with Him when He comes back (I Thess. 4:14; 2 Cor. 5:8).
  3. They will be bodily resurrected (I Thess. 4:16).
  4. Those alive when Christ comes will be caught up (“to fly away”) with them (I Thess. 4:17).
  5. We will all be transformed into His likeness (1 Jn 3:2; 1 Cor.15:51).
  6. This Rapture will happen before God’s judgment (the tribulation) on the earth (I Thess. 5:9). Certainly, a lot of events are told in these verses, and each one is a study in itself; but Oh what a great truth about those who die in Christ! Each generation is taught to look for His coming; it could happen at any moment. However, if Jesus delays His coming, we too will die and be ushered into His presence. The old song says, “Some glad morning when this life is o’re, I’ll fly away; to a home on God’s celestial shore, I’ll fly away.” It is fascinating to think that there will be a generation alive when Jesus returns who will be transformed, along with the dead in Christ, and together they will “fly away” into the presence of Jesus forever. Just think, wherever He is, we will be with Him for all eternity. The Bible describes a series of events that follow the Rapture, but that is a study for another day.

I was sad to see the geese fly away because I had gotten rather used to them. I probably will never see them again and the chances of their return are very remote. However, that is not true with loved ones in Christ who have passed away. I have lost both my parents in addition to many other family members. Some of you have lost loved ones who belonged to the Lord. Because they believed in Jesus, I fully expect to see them again based on the promises of scripture (1 Thess. 4:17). What a reunion that will be! And the best part of the entire Rapture story is that we will see Jesus, the one who made it all possible. In the meantime, while we wait for His return let’s keep busy serving Him (1 Thess. 5:10), because one day we are going to fly away with Him.

When the shadows of this life have gone, I’ll fly away
Like a bird from prison bars has flown, I’ll fly away.
I’ll fly away, O glory, I’ll fly away (in the morning)
When I die, hallelujah, by and by, I’ll fly away.