I’m finding that I actually have to be in nature to be inspired by nature. I was wondering why I was feeling kinda dry until it occurred to me that I’ve been spending most of my time inside. I have good reasons for being inside. It’s cold, gray, muddy, and windy – all of which have deterred me from feeling motived to get into the great outdoors. This morning I finally did get outside and I didn’t just quick feed the animals, but watched them, and nurtured them. I’m glad I did because I would have missed observing their fun behavior today – and God’s voice. (There’s a difference between keeping them alive and nurturing them. Sometimes I neglect or even dread the nurturing part, not only with my animals but often with my kids, but that is for another post).
Yesterday, I had let the fence down so our chickens could free-range. (They were getting out anyway because the ground was too hard to tighten up the fence). This morning, however, the ground was softer so I straightened the fence back up hoping they’d just stay in the run for the day. (We had some errands we needed to run and wouldn’t be back until well after dark to lock them up.) Still, one hen got out. I tossed some kitchen scraps and baked crushed eggs shells into the coop and I could tell the hen wanted back in to enjoy the snacks with the other chickens. I chased her in circles around the coop, but she wouldn’t let me help her. Every time I’d get near her she quickly scampered away. I tried to reason with her saying, “You actually have to let me get close to you if you want me to help you back in, and look, lady, I actually put this fence here so I know how to get you back in.” The rooster flew over the fence as though he could tell I needed help. I finally stopped chasing the hen and instead lifted up a section of the fence hoping she would come to me and crawl back under. This method took more patience. It didn’t feel as productive as anxiously chasing her around, but it worked. The rooster could see what I was doing, but he wasn’t gonna come back in until the hen was safely back in first. He helped corner her and slowly and cautiously she crawled back under the fence. The rooster followed.
I know the Bible talks a lot about how we are like sheep, but I would venture to say we are also a lot like chickens. Why is it when we wander away from God, and then recognize that we are lost and out of control and desire to return to where we were, that instead of allowing Him to help us, we scamper away in fear. Perhaps we are thinking that God is mad at us or we think that if we got ourselves into this mess we should find our way out of it. While chasing the hen around, never once did I think: “Oh well she got herself out of the fence, so I’m not gonna help her back in. I’ll just leave her here for the Coyotes. Serves her right!” I’m sure that if God likens us to sheep, and recognizes that we came from dust, and if He was willing to lay down His life for us while we were dead in our sins, then surely He is much more willing to help us than we think. The thing is though, we actually have to let Him get close to us if He’s gonna help us. He doesn’t anxiously chase us around as I did with the chicken, but instead, He patiently holds out His hand, like the longing dad of the prodigal son. He is standing at the door knocking and waiting for us to invite Him in. He won’t force His way in, but when we do draw near to Him, He draws near to us.
Often times, His way of helping us is through other people. It’s not like He needs people to accomplish His purposes, but I think it gives Him great joy to let us participate in the healing process. Just like I didn’t need the rooster to help me recapture our hen, it was still fun to watch him participate.
My roosters have really impressed me lately. I don’t think I recognized how much they help. They seem so harsh and dominating at times, so much so that we had considered getting rid of them. But then this week, not only did one rooster help lure our hen back into the coop but he also protected our entire flock from an unwanted predator. Kyle went in to reach for eggs and was taken aback by long, sharp teeth. He slowly inched closer to see what it was. It was definitely not a hen. He could see blood, fur, and a long tale. Sure enough, there was a wounded opossum in one of the nest boxes. That might explain why our egg count was down. Though we may have lost a few eggs, not one of our chickens was hurt. I’m certain we have our roosters to thank.
Like the rooster, God puts authorities and people into our lives to protect us. These people who love us the most can also be the harshest and most honest with us, and while it might be easy to write them off or get rid of them by blocking them out of our lives, they might be the very thing that God uses to draw us back to Himself.
This is the heart of God – to draw His creation back to Himself. The truth is, God longs for us to come back to Him. God delights to show us mercy and grace. He desires to pour out love and favor on us and on our families. God’s heart is full of compassion and forgiveness. We see this through the life of the Israelites.
The Israelites wandered far from the Lord doing absolutely despicable things – like offering their own children on an alter to a false god. Because they would not repent and continued to live in perpetual sin, God punished them, driving them out of the land He had given them to be taken captive by their enemies. While sending His people into exile, He told the prophet Jeremiah to purchase land, making a promise that one day he would bring His people back. He told Jeremiah, “ I will surely gather them from all the lands where I banished them in my furious anger and great wrath; I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety. They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul. ”
Can you just see God’s heart? It breaks when we walk away from Him – from the parameters of His Word. He longs to bless us, but His blessing remains inside the fence of His will. It would be foolish of me to give my wandering hen treats while she is outside her designated area. However, when I threw all kinds of treats into the coop, she wanted back in. While it may seem at times that the evil prosper, true freedom and blessings such as peace, joy, and contentment come only when we live inside the protective boundaries of God’s perfect manuscript.
His way works. Yet a lot of times when we don’t see immediate results, we revert back to Satan’s way, or the way of our flesh. We anxiously run around in circles trying to control and manipulate people and circumstances to fit our paradigm. But when we truly submit to God’s way and stop long enough to let Him get close to us, He will help bring us back into fellowship and peace. He promises that when we ” walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” – I John 1:7 It’s like running on a treadmill and getting nowhere when we to try control other people. We can only decide for ourselves to be near to God. In doing so the people around us might just catch a glimpse or our peace and decide to follow us back into the fence.
Not only does God bring us back into the “hen house” of safety, where I tried to lure my chicken, but He also does so much more. When He brings us back He also cleans us up from all sin that contaminated and entangled us while we were willfully out. God doesn’t just bring us back to keep us alive, He brings us back to nurture us, spend time with us, and enjoy our company – to bring us back to the people we were designed to be: Children of God enjoy the blessings of God inside the will of God found in the Word of God.