Many more years ago than I want to think about, my brother and I had a farm chore to take care of that was mostly our contribution to farm family life. We had chicken chores! It started when 500 tiny baby chicks had to be put to bed every night under a brooder heater so that they didn't suffocate themselves. As these young chicks grew, we turned chicken care into fun by searching under every rock and log/stick for chicken treats--worms and bugs. It was fun to see them come running for something that wiggled and to gobble them up. They definitely were not veggie chickens! Around this time we again had nightly duty of searching for chickens that did not want to come "home" to bed. We had to search all the trees with low branches for chickens that wanted to spend the night outside vulnerable to predators. We would then find sticks to throw towards those wayward chickens to encourage them to leave their branch and return back "home" to a place of safety. There is perhaps a lesson for me--don't forget where the place of safety offered to me is! It is in the shelter of God's arms where He promises to keep me safe and cared for if I don't stray or try to find my own safe place. Some places are attractive but lure into a place that can lead deeply into the forest of danger from one who is a predator.
As chickens grew from chicks to pullets and finally to full grown laying hens, as kids, we grew up too and had our chicken care duties increased. We had the duty of feeding and water, egg gathering, and then packing the eggs for marketing. We both shared feed chores, he did the water chore and I mostly gathered up the eggs—and learned to count by three’s since I could pick up 3 eggs in one hand at a time! We didn’t argue about who was doing the most—not much anyway! These things taught us responsibility and how to work together and how much work was needed to produce money for shopping for necessities. All of which helped us become responsible adults—we hope!
Today, once again there are chickens on the farm. But instead of 500, now there are 8! But 8 chickens still need responsible care! These 8 chickens have been taught to come running when they hear the call of "Here girls, here girls!" There just might be some wonderful tasty meal worms that "no chicken" wants to miss out of getting her fair share. These 8 chickens have a chicken palace mansion with everything a chicken should/could want. They have a fun yard for exercise, a place to sleep, cozy places to spend some time alone, and another place to rest and sleep, food and water as much as you want, and an automatic door that shuts to keep them safe at night and a gate that the chicken keeper opens each day to allow them freedom to wander. The small door opens and closes each morning and evening at the proper times for the early chicken to get the worm in the morning and the early to bed chicken has the chance to be wise and healthy. Good policies for chickens and equally good policies for me. The chickens are provided with all the necessities of life without struggle and without asking for them. I also generally have things provided to me without too much struggle and mostly without my asking. They just seem to happen--though when I stop and think, I know they don't just happen. In my life, like the chickens, I receive food and water and shelter and freedom to choose the path and experience I take each day. My "Chicken" Keeper wants to keep me safe and happy and productive. I am so grateful/ thankful for my Keeper! Thankful that He never forgets me, never forgets to provide what I need.
This week the chickens were given a new chicken keeper--my husband. He checks on their food and water. He gathers their eggs. He opens their freedom gate and he closes the freedom gate at the end of the day. He makes sure all is right in chicken land. One night he went to close the gate but discovered two chickens outside of the chicken pen/yard! It was dark out and all good chickens want to and should be roosting for the night by then. And most were! Just not two of them! They were anxious about getting left out of their mansion! The chicken keeper called "Here Girls!" and they came obediently into their yard. BUT!.... They could not get into their house to roost with the other 6. The automatic door closer had closed the small door on time. The chickens had not been on time! The door had closed without them being inside. Sad little chickens! They were left outside the chicken-fold. They had not prepared to get inside on time.
They had missed curfew! When the chicken keeper opened the small door, they immediately went into the fold and to their roost resting places. They were once again a part of the chicken family.
There are some obvious chicken lessons in this story. The first one was about being too late! There were people who did not get inside the ark because they were too late and the door closed! Oh how they probably wished they had made the decision to enter the door sooner than later. There is another story of doors being closed and additional guests were not able to get in because they hadn't prepared ahead of time. Then they wished they had prepared. Someday the gates of heaven will open wide and those who have prepared will be able to enter in. The "Chicken Keeper" will gladly welcome them to come in and to rest with Him. I am ready to come into the Door. I do not want Heaven's Gate to close with me on the outside. Finding myself on the outside will mean that not all was right in my life, that I had not prepared ahead. That I have not made sure that I am ready each day for the coming of the Chicken Keeper--who will be on time. The Keeper will open the gate and close the gate when the time is right! I choose to be ready! I want to join my brothers and sisters in the family of God. I invite you to enter the Gate on time, also--do not wait past the curfew time and find the door has closed.
Don't close the door yet! I'm coming in!