Every day at 3:00 in the afternoon, I feed my group of penguins and give a keeper chat. We call it the Penguins Rock Feeding Show, though the only thing that makes it a show is the music and the microphone I use to give the chat. Essentially, it is just me throwing fish into the pool and hand-feeding any penguins that come up on land. It is still fun for me and seems to be a favourite of the visitors. One of the penguins that usually comes up on land to be hand-fed is named Mundo. He is currently the oldest penguin in our flock at 27 years old. He has cataracts and can’t see perfectly, but he’s still pretty spunky and eats well. At the beginning of the feeding, he will take one or two Capelin, which is the main fish the penguins are fed, but what he’s really looking for is the bag of Silverside Minnows I save as “dessert” for the penguins. Usually about halfway through my keeper chat, Mundo stops taking Capelin from me and starts pacing around, looking for the treats he knows are coming. If he feels I’m not talking fast enough, he’ll even come over and nip me on the knee or arm to remind me that he’s waiting. Then, at the end of my speech, I stand up and reach for the bag of Silversides. Mundo gets so excited! He knows that me standing up is the cue. I toss a few handfulls of the small fish into the water to keep the other excited birds occupied and then drop a handful of fish on the ground right in front of Mundo. Sometimes he doesn’t see the fish fall and continues to look at me expectantly, so I’ll drop one or two more on top of the pile. Once he sees them, though, they don’t stay on the ground for long. Mundo will gobble them up and look at me for more. We repeat this process until the whole bag of fish is gone. The ritual observed for the day, Mundo wanders off to clean his feathers after dinner.
Mundo and all of the other penguins in the flock, have become conditioned to expect me to start throwing Silversides to them whenever I stand up during a feeding time. The practically beg for these tiny, fatty fish. This made me think about the way that we pray. Do we pray with expectation? When we bring a need or request to God, do we really believe that He will listen and answer? 1 John 5:14-15 says “Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for.” God is able to give us anything that we ask for, but there is an important little part to those verses – four little words “according to His will.” I don’t give Silversides to my penguins every time I stand up during a feeding. Sometimes I’m standing up to put a piece of garbage out of reach of the penguins. Other times, I’m standing to break up a fight. I also don’t give Mundo Silversides on his timing. If I did, he wouldn’t feel the need to nip me to let me know he’s waiting. But when the right time comes, I gladly give the penguins all the Silversides I have. Why? Because the high fat fish, in moderation, is good for them. And because they love them. It makes me happy to see them enjoying their “treat.” God is the same way. He longs to give us what He knows is best for us. Sometimes we just have to learn to ask for the things in His will. Other times, we just have to wait for the right time. We also have to be willing to accept “no” as an answer when we ask for the wrong things. But when the right time comes, and we ask in God’s will, He will gladly give us all that He has for us.