It’s a coyote-eat-chicken kind of world. My eldest son Jack learned this lesson about a year ago when, and you guessed it, a coyote ate one of our chickens.
Now you might be thinking many different things right now: Why am I hearing a story about one of Pastor Ryan’s dead chickens? He must be struggling to come up with a blog post topic this week, or he must have really loved that chicken.
As Stubborn As A Chicken
The story of Specky is more of a cautionary tale than anything. Specky decided she no longer liked the safety of her coop, the safety of our yard, or the safety of being seen by one of us. She decided to make a nest in the backwoods far from the house and far from where we could see her.
We shooed and rounded her up as best we could, but Specky wanted her nest right in coyote territory. I wish I could tell you Specky ended up like Road Runner in the Looney Toons cartoons and made a fool of Coyote by using his tricks against him, but no. Specky got eaten. And my son learned it’s a wild and crazy world out there filled with coyotes looking for an easy meal.
But why did Specky end up in the belly of a furry dog-like creature? Quite simply it was because she was unwise and stubborn.
At our house, chickens don’t stay in their enclosure. They may sleep in their coop, but we let them roam free during the day. On our property they have over an acre of land to explore, enjoy, and scratch out bugs to their heart’s content. But we back up onto about 100 acres of wooded wetland area -- there isn’t a fence to stop them, but there is also nothing back there for a chicken to enjoy.
We Are All Specky
Alright, you might be thinking, what is the point? Often Scripture uses agricultural terms to break down complexities to make a point easier to understand. Congregations are called flocks (1 peter 5:2), Jesus refers to the inhabitants of Jerusalem like baby chickens (Matt 22:37), those who are not Christians but live amongst them are referred to as goats (Matt 25:33), and those who seek to destroy the church are called wolves (Acts 20:29). So, yes, I am calling you all chickens and asking all of us to pay attention long enough to learn from Specky’s demise.
A Call To Freedom
We could lock our chickens away and refuse to let them out. But they produce better eggs and are generally healthier if they roam outside, so we open the door. Is it the safest way to keep them, no, but it makes them healthier. So it is with God and his people. We could be locked away in our church buildings, safe, secure, and never faced with threat, but would that be healthy? No. We have been blessed by God with a call to go out into the world (Matt 28:19), to bring light to it, and to enjoy his creation. When we do this wisely, we flourish. But when we forget there is wisdom to be heeded, when we stiffen our necks and think the wisdom of God doesn’t apply to us, we begin to drift away from the freedom and safety of the way God has shown us leads to flourishing. (Luke 15:11-32).
God gave us all we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), but like our first parents, we continue to chase after the things that will kill us. He even gave us warnings in Scripture about the predators that seek to devour us:
Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. – 1 Peter 5:8b
What is the solution to being devoured? Consider Peter’s exhortation at the beginning of that verse:
Be sober-minded; be watchful. – 1 Peter 5:8a
There may be many different ways to navigate this Christian life, but one thing is certain, the paths we are faced with in our conduct and in our decisions will often only be distinguishable by walking in wisdom that comes from being watchful, following the light, the safety, and security of Jesus Christ, and the godly conduct that is laid out for us through the teaching of Scripture. God has not hidden from us the way that leads to life, in fact he guides us on the way. Might we be wise enough to listen to his Word and the counsel of his people as we chart a course for our lives.
Grace That Retrieves
Finally, a word to those of us who identify with Specky more than we’d like to admit. Believe this: God is like a good shepherd who will find the one sheep who wandered and bring them back. I couldn’t save Specky, but God can save you, rescue you, and bring you back into the fold no matter how dark and deep you are into the woods. Humble yourself and ask him to save you, he is ready, willing, and able.