A little traffic jam in Ilkley

I was driving into Ilkley the other day when the traffic came to an abrupt halt.   Nothing particularly remarkable about that, you might think, given that Ilkley can be a busy place.  On this occasion, however, there was only one car in front of me, one coming towards me, and the traffic lights were green.  Then, marching steadily out from the housing estate on my right, and continuing straight across the A65, came the reason: Mother Duck, with eight little ducklings, each barely more than a little ball of brown and yellow fluff, bobbing along behind her.

Whose garden had she been nesting in? I wondered.  Why had she come so far from the river to lay her eggs?  Did she know the way back? She certainly seemed quite purposeful as she turned down the farm track, though I wasn’t sure how she – or her little ones – would negotiate the cattle grid.  There must have been at least two fields to cross before they reached the Wharfe.  A very long way for little legs!  Would they make it?  Would she know if she lost one?  None of this seemed to worry the ducklings.  Mother Duck was there, so they just kept close and followed her.

It was, I recall, the Austrian psychologist Konrad Lorenz who investigated what he called ‘imprinting’ - the innate tendency of ducks and geese and some other creatures to form an attachment to the first large moving object they see during a critical period shortly after hatching.  The bond is formed as a result of visual and auditory stimuli, and is persistent and unbreakable so that the young can be quickly gathered in times of danger or led to somewhere new.

That reminds me of the bond between the Lord Jesus and each one of His redeemed people, formed in eternity past and then evidenced in time when we come to know Him as our Lord and Saviour.  As we read His Word the Holy Spirit enlightens our minds and hearts and works in us so that we learn to ‘love Him more dearly and follow Him more nearly’ - all the way home.

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.  I and My Father are one.

                                                                                                                        John 10:27-30

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; whom He justified, these He also glorified.

                                                                                                                        Romans 8:29-30

I’ve found a Friend, O such a Friend!

He loved me ere I knew Him;

He drew me with the cords of love,

And thus He bound me to Him;

And round my heart still closely twine

Those ties which nought can sever;

For I am His, and He is mine,

For ever and for ever.


I’ve found a Friend, O such a Friend!

He bled, He died to save me;

And not alone the gift of life,

But His own self He gave me.

Nought that I have mine own I’ll call,

I’ll hold it for the Giver;

My heart, my strength, my life, my all

Are His, and His for ever.


I’ve found a Friend, O such a Friend!

So kind, and true, and tender!

So wise a Counsellor and Guide,

So mighty a Defender!

From Him who loves me now so well

What power my soul can sever?

Shall life or death, or earth or hell?

No! I am His for ever.

                                                J G Small