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August 1, 2005

August!!!!  If you are like me, you are sitting in dazed amazement wondering what happened to your summer. In just 15 days school begins. A new cycle. New expectations. New responsibilities. What if we’re still struggling with all the old expectations and the old responsibilities? Do you ever feel like you’re falling behind - just a tad off the pace with no hope of catching up?

A man had twenty ducks of which he put his son in charge. Each morning the son would lead the ducks out into the pond to play. Each night the son would lead the ducks home again.

“The secret to herding ducks,” said the boy’s father, “is to make sure that they are all in a row. If you can’t keep your ducks in a row, you will never be a great duck herder.”

Those who have herded ducks know that keeping five ducks in line is easy, ten difficult, twenty impossible. The herder is constantly running from one end of the row to the other putting ducks in place.

Needless to say, the son never could keep his ducks in line. For the rest of his days, he felt the disapproval of his father and the other duck herders. He died alone and dejected.

Do you ever feel as though you have to pass an achievement test before you are accepted? Are you accepted because of what you do or, because of who you are?

Do you have relatives who won’t speak to you? Parents who won’t listen to your feelings? A spouse who is expecting you to be someone you’re not? What about “friends” or co-workers who gossip about your shortcomings? Are you wearing the right clothes? Are you living in the right kind of house? Are you driving the right type of car? Are your ducks in a row?

Acceptance is when we feel free to be ourselves without any thought of being judged or criticized. Acceptance is not based on achievement.

Paul writes, “Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7)

This God type of acceptance is so hard for us to understand.  How could we ever achieve God’s acceptance of us?  Even with our greatest efforts our ducks just won’t line up. Yet God, through Jesus, accepts us, even in the failure of our sin and rebellion against Him.

God loves and accepts us for who we are. He’s proven His love. Knowing our hopeless slavery to sin and all that binds us Jesus gave of Himself by dying on the cross. God offers to each of us salvation and life with Him, not based on what we achieve, but in Jesus by grace (1 John 4:10).

Sure, we need to change. We are all works in progress. There are parts of us that we can point to that we are not satisfied with and there are sinful patterns that God needs to correct. There is always room for improvement and growth. But, even when we fail at that growth, God still loves and accepts us. As someone said, “God loves the sinner not the sin.”

Acceptance like this is a rare find in this world. So many people are hurting because they have never felt this genuine acceptance from those closest to them. But, imagine if others accepted us this way.

Imagine if we could learn to accept others this way (including ourselves). As God, in Jesus, accepts us so we are to accept others (1 John 4:11).

May we grow in our understanding of God’s acceptance of us and our acceptance of others.