Any kind of bad habit or sin is a danger lurking in the shadows just looking for an opportunity to move in and take up residence in our hearts.
Here’s a brain teaser for you: what do four ducks, seventeen eggs, two nests and a cat all have in common? Give up? They were all in our attic. Yes, you read that right. Every bit of what you are about to read is absolutely true. Trust me, I couldn’t begin to make this up!
A few weeks ago, we started hearing some random noises overhead in the vicinity of our dining room. We thought it was squirrels running around on the roof (as they often do) so we ignored it. Weeks later, the sounds became louder and lasted longer. I began to suspect we had a couple of rats or a family of squirrels in our attic (as has happened in the past) but my husband said it wasn’t that; it was ducks. Ducks? Yes, ducks, but he said they were roosting on the roof where the flat roof of our sun room meets the side of the house. He said they would fly down off of the roof in the morning when he would go outside and scare him half to death. I couldn’t believe they were so loud, but I took his word for it and again, we ignored it. Days later as we were sitting in our living room, we began to think World War III was happening in our ceiling. My husband grabbed the ladder to poke his head up in the attic with a flashlight in order to investigate. I asked him what he saw and he said, “It’s a duck!” We couldn’t believe it! “How big?” I asked him. “Big one!” he replied. Definitely not good! I mean, who has ducks in their attic? And the bigger question…how did he get in? My husband and son went up on the roof to investigate. Apparently, the duck had peeled back the edge of the metal flashing on the roof to create an entrance (and peeled back the flashing on the other end to create an exit) into our warm, dry and inviting attic. Since it was late at night and the duck wasn’t leaving until daylight, we went to bed and decided to wait until the next day when the duck would go out on his own to seal up the holes to prevent his entering again. Honestly, we just forgot about it because it was quiet up above during the day. It wasn’t until evening that we would hear the noise and remember – “Oh, right, there’s a duck in the attic!”
Three days later, we still had a duck in the attic. It was a Wednesday and it had been raining that morning when I began to notice an unpleasant smell wafting down from the ceiling in the area of the duck dwelling. That was it! No more delays – the duck had to go. My husband and son grabbed ladders and went on a duck extraction mission. One of them went up on a ladder in the hallway attic entrance, and the other went up on a ladder out in the garage attic entrance. As they shined their flashlights around, my son cried out, “There’s a cat!” In the attic? Yes, in the attic. “Where’s the duck?” I called. Apparently, he was out on the roof since the cat was now in the attic. My husband had my son start crawling through the attic to make his way over to where the duck had been and the cat now was. We soon discovered why the cat was in the attic – there were eggs. Not one, not two, but seventeen eggs divided between two nests. This immediately told us three things: 1) There were at least four ducks living in our attic, 2) There were about to be a lot more ducks living in our attic, and 3) We had better do something about it NOW! My husband had me hand him a bag to put the eggs in and he asked my son to start crawling across the attic to retrieve the bag. Now, my son is not a little guy. He is 6’2” and built like a football player. Crawling across the attic was a delicate business for him. As hard as he tried to stay on the rafters, one knee went down through the living room ceiling putting a nice hole above my husband’s recliner. Meanwhile, the cat was nonchalantly roaming around the attic with no intention of leaving. My son finally made his way over to the nests with the bag, retrieved the eggs, and handed them down to me. Please do not ask me what I did with the eggs. I will plead the 5th.
Ducks out of the attic – check. Eggs out of the attic – check. Cat out of the attic…not yet. How to accomplish that? My son had a brilliant idea. We would make the cat want to leave the attic. How so? He had his sister hand him two metal lids from pans in the kitchen. My husband went out on the roof above where the cat was last seen. My daughter stationed herself in the kitchen…and then it began. I’m sure our neighbors thought we were completely nuts as they saw my husband jumping up and down on the roof, heard my son clanging pot lids together in the attic, and heard my daughter jumping up and down in the kitchen hitting the ceiling and yelling to make noise in the cat’s vicinity. I was standing in our garage, laughing, and a little stunned at what I was witnessing. Well, at least it worked! The cat couldn’t leave our attic fast enough. He probably thought we were crazy too!
Once all of the wildlife and traces thereof were eradicated from our attic, my husband and son sealed up the ducks’ entrance and exit on the roof. No more roosting ducks in our attic! You might think that was the end of it, but there is more. The four ducks who had recently been evicted, were not happy to be so. They stalked us. When my son went up on the roof later in the day to check and make sure they hadn’t gotten back in, the ducks flew menacingly onto the roof and stared him down. They flew down into our back yard and stared at me through the window where I work at my computer. I kid you not! They just craned their necks and stared at me. I didn’t dare go outside and shoo them off. I’ve seen the movie The Birds; I know what can happen! They continued flying up on our roof, into our yard and wandering around our property for another week before they finally accepted defeat and moved on.
I was so amazed by all of this that I pondered it a good deal. I just couldn’t believe it had happened. I mean, who has ever heard of ducks and cats being in someone’s attic of all places? All of our friends and family thought it was hilarious. We did laugh too – after the fact. And although I saw the humor in it, I also saw some seriousness in it. When you ignore something that needs to be addressed, things can go from bad to worse, and it can result in great difficulty in fixing the problem when it finally is addressed.
What happens when we let things start creeping into our minds and hearts that should not be there? We might know they are there, but we don’t think much of it or we put off dealing with it until it becomes a huge problem or it’s too late. You can let bad habits and sins start to inch their way in until, before you know it, they’ve taken up residence. Consider profanity, for instance. You may never speak it, but you allow yourself to watch TV shows and movies that use a lot of it. More and more of it enters your mind and then one day you get angry and a bad word pops into your mind or worse yet, it pops out of your mouth. You’re shocked! How did that happen? Where did that come from? The fact is, you let it move in and take up residence in your heart. You have a roosting duck. Jesus says, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45 NKJV. The things we say and even think, are based on what we have let into our hearts. It reaches a point where they take over and they begin to manifest themselves in what we say and do. Once that happens, what is the remedy for eradicating those bad words and thoughts? The apostle Paul shares the solution in Philippians 4:8. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.” We must drive out the bad thoughts by replacing them with good things, pure things. If we think on the things which Paul listed, we will do away with the impure and keep it out of our hearts.
Another example is the behavior of our children. When they are small, they might start throwing little temper tantrums when they get angry. It might look comical and be amusing at first and we may just laugh at their scowls and the stamping of their little feet. But later on, it is no longer cute and amusing when they yell and scream and dishonor us as their parents. It reaches a point where parents have lost all control and then wonder what in the world happened to their child? What happened was another roosting duck. The behavior was not dealt with properly and nipped in the bud back at the very beginning and now it is completely out of hand. The wise man Solomon said in Proverbs 22:15, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him.” He also stated in the same chapter back in verse 6, “Train up a child in the way he should go…”
Profanity and bad behavior are only two of many examples of things we can allow into our hearts or lives that will have serious repercussions if they are not dealt with swiftly and correctly. Any kind of bad habit or sin is a danger lurking in the shadows just looking for an opportunity to move in and take up residence in our hearts.
Our duck problem was much worse than it should have been simply because we did not deal with it from the very beginning. It reached the point where the ducks had completely moved in and taken up residence, and then it was much harder to deal with. Even after they were removed, we still had to be on guard so they didn’t get back in. They were not happy to be booted out and stubbornly persisted in trying to get back in. We had to diligently be on guard and keep them out. In a similar way, bad habits and sins are not easy to get rid of, nor will they easily stay away. We must be vigilant and proactive in keeping them from returning and taking up residence in our hearts again. As Solomon so wisely said, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23
Be on guard against roosting ducks!
This article was featured in the May/June 2014 issue of Christian Woman magazine and will be included in the future edition of Heart to Heart: Devotional Thoughts for Women, Volume II.