Ducks have a special gland positioned near their tails, called the preen gland. This gland produces an oil, which ducks rub over their feathers with their beaks (preening) to maintain their waterproof effect. This oil creates a protective barrier that stops feathers from becoming waterlogged.
In studying to apply this habit of ducks to the Christian walk, I came across the following three paragraphs of information concerning the anointing. You will see how it runs parallel with preening.
Anointing was derived from a practice of shepherds. Lice and other insects would often get into the wool of sheep, and when they got near the sheep’s head, they could burrow into the sheep’s ears and kill the sheep. So, shepherds poured oil on the sheep’s head. This made the wool slippery, making it impossible for insects to get near the sheep’s ears because the insects would slide off.
From this, anointing became symbolic of blessing, protection, and empowerment. The New Testament Greek words for ‘anoint’ are chrio, which means ‘to smear or rub with oil’ and, by implication, ‘to consecrate for office or religious service’; and aleipho, which means ‘to anoint’. In Bible times, people were anointed with oil to signify God’s blessing or call on that person’s life (Exodus 29:7; Exodus 40:9; 2 Kings 9:6; Ecclesiastes 9:8; James 5:14). A person was anointed for a special purpose—to be a king, to be a prophet, to be a builder, etc. There is nothing wrong with anointing a person with oil today. We just have to make sure that the purpose of anointing is in agreement with Scripture. Anointing should not be viewed as a ‘magic potion’. The oil itself does not have any power. It is only God who can anoint a person for a specific purpose. If we use oil, it is only a symbol of what God is doing.
After Christ left the earth, He gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16). Now all Christians are anointed, chosen for a specific purpose in furthering God’s Kingdom (1 John 2:20). “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)
The reason I wanted to use the duck and it’s preening attributes is because of the expression “Like water off a duck’s back!” Let me explain. Our church has really been digging into the Bible, prayer, worship, fellowshipping and evangelizing since we entered 2018. I have really taken it to heart and determined that I have to give it an all out effort. But I have noticed that the little things in life that did not bother me before have started to bother me. I recognize it as an attack from the enemy. I have found myself praying and asking the Lord to make me like a duck so that the annoyances of life can run off my back just like water off of a duck’s back. In other words I don’t want the little things (or big things for that matter) in life to steal from me. The first part of any victory is to recognize the problem and from there apply the proper solution. Avoidance and restraint have become my keys. It’s not always easy. Where avoidance is not practical, restraint kicks in. I like the advice that the Lord gave to Cain:
“Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” (Genesis 4:6-7 NLT)
Sometimes as Christians, we do not want to accept the fact that in life, hard work is required from time to time. It’s not always a downhill ride. We can quote positive scripture verses all we want to, but the fact still remains that we must take up our cross and follow Jesus. Paul does not make no bones about it when he writes:
“For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life…..but God delivered us…..and He will keep delivering us.” (2 Corinthians 1:8, 10)
So, what advice can I give you? Be a duck. But don’t just be any duck. Be a duck that allows yourself to be preened with the anointing oil of the Holy Spirit, fit for the work the Lord lays before you. And don’t stop there. Be a duck that is kind to everyone you come in contact with!
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He anoints my head with oil; my cup runs over.” (Psalms 23:1, 5)
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” (attributed to Socrates)