We are in Memphis, Tennessee this evening getting ready to go see Graceland, the home of Elvis, in the morning. It’s been years since Janet and I have come through this city and we are traveling with our oldest daughter, Kristin, and our grandson, Connor. We decided to take a trip through part of the south with the intention of getting to Vicksburg to see the history of the Civil War in the area and then on to Natchez, MS to stay at a plantation and see the mansions there. On the way home, we will head through Huntsville to see the US Space and Rocket Center as the final leg on our trip.
It’s not often that Janet and I veer away from our trips to the Greenbrier but the rest of my travel companions wanted me to design something a little different – so I went back to my early childhood and the trips we used to take to visit my aunt, uncle and cousins in Mississippi. I remember that Dad always wanted us to study some history when we had a chance to get away – and we really couldn’t afford to go anywhere that Dad couldn’t combine a visit to a plywood mill or factory. So our “vacations” were always by car and had to be near a destination where Dad could get some business done.
Such was the case when we went to Mississippi where the family had a plywood mill in Beaumont, MS, south of Hattiesburg. And while we won’t be going that far south this trip, a stop in Memphis was necessitated because Janet, Kristin and Connor wanted to stay at the Peabody Hotel to see the famous ducks in the lobby fountain.
In case you aren’t familiar with this ritual, five ducks (a male and four females) live on the roof of the hotel in a $200,000 enclosure. Each day at 11:00 am, they are led to the elevator by the Duckmaster and travel down to the lobby where they exit onto a red carpet, walking through the lobby to climb a few stairs and enter the fountain. At the end of the day, at 5:00 pm, they reverse their tracks and head back up to their sanctuary on the roof, once again following the Duckmaster.
The hotel, in homage to the ducks, does not serve any duck dishes or meals anywhere in the hotel, a unique decision for the very high end eatery located there. The tradition is almost 90 years old, from the 1930’s, and this has been a ritual that has stood the test of time.
In fact, the first Duckmaster, Edward Pembroke, had been a bellman at the hotel and was a former animal trainer. He offered to help with delivering the ducks to the fountain each day and was the one responsible for teaching them the now famous duck march. He served as Duckmaster for 50 years until he retired in 1991. Anyway, the ducks follow their master and he gets them safely from the roof to the lobby fountain each day. To this day, the ducks trust the Duckmaster.
I hope by now you see where this is going. That’s because it is clear to every Christian that we also have a Master – Jesus Christ Himself. And while we sometimes forget the way, Jesus has encouraged us to follow Him and He will lead us safely from where we are to where we are supposed to be. Just like those ducks, we can trust our Master to get us where we need to be. And notice that when we need a little correction, God lovingly nudges us back on the right path – always with love, but firmly, confidently, leading us to our destination. In the process we become progressively sanctified as we spend more time with Him.
Our verse for tonight highlights the fact that Jesus knows His flock. And while we may not be ducks, we are sheep. John tells us, in John 10:27, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” It can’t get much simpler than that. We should recognize the voice of Jesus and let Him lead us to eternity with Him.
My encouragement this evening is that we know the voice of our Master, and just like the ducks at the Peabody, we can follow and safely get to our destination. My prayer is that we can enjoy the best things in life, both in this world and in heaven, if we will only follow our Master. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…