Helping a pelican

What do you do when you aren’t sure how to solve a problem? Do you ask your mom or dad for help? Or maybe you talk to a friend. I’ve done both those things, too. But then I learned a lesson that showed me there’s an even better helper we can always turn to. Here’s what happened.

One day I was at a lake and saw a pelican standing on the shore. Pelicans are large birds with big beaks that have a pouch for holding fish. I thought the pelican was sleeping, because its head was tucked under its wing. But as I walked closer, it began to hop away without lifting up its head. That’s when I knew something was wrong.

There was no one nearby who could tell me what to do to help. But I knew I could ask God what to do. So I started praying.

One idea that came to me to think about was Hymn 83 from the Christian Science Hymnal. The first part says, “God made all His creatures free; / Life itself is liberty” (James Montgomery). 

Liberty is another word for freedom. I knew this bird had a right to be freed from whatever was holding its head down. Slowly, I began walking toward it. I told the bird that I knew it was God’s idea—perfect and safe. I also told it that it had a right to be free and that God would show us both how I could help it. 

As I got closer, the pelican went into the lake and then stopped. I continued telling it that God was taking care of both of us and that it deserved to be free. I felt God was telling me what to do and say. This made my doubts and fears go away.

I prayed that the pelican would feel safe and know that I was trying to help it. I walked into the lake. When I got close enough, very gently I put my arms all the way around the bird. Carefully, I held on to its beak and looked to see what was holding its head down.

I saw that a double-sided fish hook was attached to its neck and body behind its wing. I kept praying as I gently pulled out part of the hook so the pelican could move its head. The second part of the hook was harder to get out. Then a fisherman who had been watching came over and helped.

AARON CRANFORD — STAFF

As soon as the fish hook was completely out, I let the pelican go. It shook its head and swam away. I was so grateful! 

I love how God guided me step by step and gave me courage and the direction I needed to help the pelican gain its freedom. This gives me confidence that we can all turn to God if we have a problem or don’t know what to do. God really is “a very present help in trouble” (Psalms 46:1).

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