The Rubber Duck Dilemma

I’ve been following my own experiment on dealing with habitual sin. I’ve also been trying to make myself continually aware of God’s presence in my life. These things are a major part of my spiritual growth plan. I seek to “attain to the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…” (Ephesians 4:13, ESV).

We tend to treasure that which has our constant attention. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21, ESV). So when we focus on what God’s Word has to say about the virtue* which is in conflict with our sin we become more aware, more mindful, of God and the virtue. It then works itself in by pushing the sin out! Sin focus leads to more sin. Virtue focus leads to more virtue. John tells us, “but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2, ESV emphasis mine). “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (I Corinthians 13:12, ESV). We want to look in a clear mirror and see Christ in us. But what does this have to do with rubber ducks? I’m glad you’ve asked!

Who doesn’t love a rubber duck? I mean, what’s not to love? They come in all kinds of designs and colors. they squeak when you squeeze them. They float happily in your tub. They always seem as though they’re smiling at you. And they have an uncanny ability to make you happy, if only for a second or two. They seem innocent enough yet beneath that disarming exterior lies a sinister plot to take you out…. Okay, maybe not, but let’s just pretend for a moment.

Think of your life as a bathtub and imagine that sins are represented by rubber ducks. Your bathtub is full to the brim with rubber ducks. You can try to remove the ducks one by one but all of your attention is focused on the rubber ducks. When you pull one out it is your focus. So, another duck jumps in the tub while you’re not looking.

Bathtubs are designed to hold one thing in particular, water. They are not designed to hold rubber ducks, but they can do so if they aren’t fulfilling their purpose. Water represents the Holy Spirit. The faucet is activated by the Word of God and our love for Him. When we turn the faucet by focusing on God and His Word water begins to pour into the tub. The flow of the water is then sufficient to keep filling the tub even when the “drain of life”–comprised of the necessary duties that demand our attention–is open. The Holy Spirit begins to fill us. As He does the water level rises and it begins to bring the rubber ducks–sins–to the surface and they begin to fall out of the tub. Without our help! Eventually, all of the ducks will vacate the tub if we continue to focus on God and His Word. However, if we take our eyes off of the faucet, the water slows or shuts off and the tub begins to drain. Once again the tub begins to fill with rubber ducks, as they take up all of the territory relinquished by the receding water. The only way to get rid of the ducks is to not focus on them, but rather on the water.

The Great Rubber Duck Dilemma facing us is this: will we allow ourselves to become distracted by the rubber ducks until our whole tub is full and we are unable to bathe or will we determine to focus on keeping the water flowing and displacing the rubber ducks from the tubs of our lives?


If we choose the former we may enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, but the cost will be unbearable. Hebrews 11:24-26 tells us that “By faith Moses…[chose] rather to be mistreated with the people of God than enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward” (ESV).

If we choose the latter we will discover the great joy of a deeply fulfilling relationship with God, the freedom that comes from a life surrendered to Him and the cleansing power of the Lord’s presence in our lives through His Word and His Holy Spirit. Ephesians tells us that “…Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27, ESV).

Hopefully, this slightly humorous analogy will give you a new perspective and possibly a bit of motivation to work on your spiritual growth. Blessings to you!

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