What to ducks, Vietnam, and love have in common? In his commentary on 1 Peter, Bible teacher David Helm tells this fascinating story:
The Vietnam War was mercifully drawing to a close during my middle-school years. And that meant that young men who had been sent over to fight were now returning to the States. Each one needed a fresh start on life. For one man that meant enrolling at Judson College. I never knew the man by name, but I regularly saw him from a distance of a hundred yards.
Judson College is on the Fox River in Illinois; my dad’s office in the Athletic Department was a wedge shot from its banks. I could see the river from the gym. During the frigid winter months the man stood alone along the river’s frozen edge, tending a covey of ducks. He fed them. He cut through the ice to open up an area of water for them. In short, he met their every need during the cold season. Every day.
I asked my dad why the man cared so much about the ducks. I will never forget the story he told: “He has just returned from the war in Vietnam. The story is that ducks saved his life. His unit had been ambushed. Many of his friends had been killed, and while he hadn’t been shot, he lay down to look like he had. He hoped they would go away. But they didn’t. The enemy kept coming. Through the fields they came. They’d put one more shot in every fallen man to ensure that he was dead. But suddenly a covey of ducks flew overhead, and the attention of the soldiers was diverted. In their excitement they began running after the ducks to shoot at them instead. In the end, they stopped checking the field for men and left. That’s how the many by the river escaped. And now he has a special love for the ducks. He loves because he lives.”[i]
That's Peter's point in 1 Peter 1:22-25—Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, (23) since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; (24) for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, (25) but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
We love because we live.
[i] David R. Helm, 1–2 Peter and Jude, Preaching the Word (Wheaton: Crossway, 2015), 65.