I had no idea that there was such variety in the meaning of the phrase “have all your ducks in a row.”
Some meanings are: to be well-organized, fully prepared, efficient, have one's act together, put one's house in order, everything in alignment, all the stars in your favor.
What is the origin of the term? Apparently one guess is as good as another. Some say it came from setting up the duck pins in a bowling alley or shooting ducks in a row in a carnival game. The most plausible is from nature. Mother ducks often corral their young offspring into manageable straight lines before traveling over land or water. Most of us have seen traffic stopping while such a line of ducks calmly waddles across a busy thoroughfare following the mother duck. Any stragglers or escapees would be noticed as long as the integrity of this line is maintained. Getting all of one's ideas or ingredients or team members in one organized line would be similar to a mother duck getting all of her literal ducks in a row.
It is also possible that the expression came from the natural flight formation of ducks as they move through the sky. The most efficient arrangement is a V-formation behind the leader, which allows each duck to take advantage of reduced wind resistance. Having all of one's metaphorical ducks in a row would be just as efficient and logical as flying in such an organized formation.
Since it is all up for grabs, I want to put my own spin on interpreting that phrase in spiritual terms. I'm going to use the scenario “all details accounted for and in their proper position for something to happen.” Another way of saying “all things working together” in the Romans 8:28 sense. As finite, mortal, created humans we operate on an earthly level and blunder along as best we can. The reason is that we can't see the big picture. We can only try to make our own plans but we can't see the overall design and purpose of whatever we do or where the details of everyday life fit in. For those of us who have surrendered our wills and lives into God's hands, ultimately God guides us in the way we should go and we fall in line after Him.
I firmly believe this extends to our ordinary daily activities as mundane and unremarkable as some of them seem to us. God gave us a free will but when we have freely turned it over to Him we put ourselves, as it were, in the river of His will and available for His purposes. We are not robots or puppets, but joyful followers of the Lord. Throughout any given day, the Holy Spirit sees to it that we are in the right place at the right time and in a position for something to happen. He arranges us as “ducks in a row” so we can be prepared and take part in His awesome networking. He puts people together in what might seem to be coincidental circumstances and brings to pass something that He has planned. By ourselves we could never set up such conditions.
Even in the past week, I have experienced such particular coincidences which I call “God-incidences” and am astonished at His spiritual networking in my own life. In fact, I regularly experience them. The encounters I have had could never be simply chance events, happenstance, or accidental. They are not trivial or incidental. God is at work in small details of my daily life and yours.
I keep REcalling in hindsight “if I hadn't gone somewhere at a certain time instead of going somewhere else first, or if I had been delayed doing such and such instead of able to go quickly somewhere, or vice versa, or gone in another direction instead, I would not have been in a certain position for such and such to have happened or met such and such person”--that sort of thing. These are awesome experiences which I marvel at and which I am excited to be involved in!
I think of the story of the patriarch Joseph in the Old Testament and all the detailed God-incidences he went through in order for God to position him for his destiny. Consequently, he was available to save not only his extended family but ultimately his nation as well as Egypt during a time of famine. Again—if this or that had not happened to him, negative and painful as the events were, to take him from one level to another, he would not have been in a position to accomplish the purposes of God.
As for me, I am happy to be one of God's little ducklings in a row of ducklings obediently following God's will and design for my life in order to daily be in the right place at the right time so He can “work all things together” to accomplish the purposes of God's Kingdom.