Part of my daily routine includes taking our two border collie dogs up to one of the empty goat fields and walking them. Sometimes I will leave them up there for extra run-around time while I attend to other chores. The border collie natural instinct is to “herd” or “corral” things, chickens included. Well trained shepherding dogs can probably behave beautifully around chickens but we never invested the consistent time to train them properly. We learned long ago that if they are left out with chickens, if a chicken starts to run, the dogs will automatically try to chase and “herd” it and if captured, they will then try to play with and bite it, and eventually the chicken will die from its injuries. Thankfully, for the most part, we’ve been able to successfully keep them apart.
Chicken behavior is interesting to watch, as well. They are, indeed, flock creatures and tend to free range in small groups. A rooster will generally take one or more hens “under his wing” and look out for them. He will alert his hens when he has found food and will deny himself to let them have it. He will also protect the hens from other roosters trying to invade his territory. So there is a covering of protection, of sorts, when the hen stays with her little flock while out in the world of free ranging.
Our chickens have many acres of fields and greens on which to free range on our homestead. Much of the time they like to go up into the goat fields and lay eggs in the sheds as well as rummage through the hay for tasty morsels. There is one chicken that, over the past several months, likes to leave her little flock and go up by herself into the goat field next to the one where we walk the dogs and hang out there. A couple of months ago, I saw that chicken all by herself eyeing the greener grass on the other side and hop through the fence into the dog field just as I was walking up. Well, unbeknownst to her, the dogs were watching and immediately pounced on her. I ran over and was able to get the dogs to let go and the chicken ran off leaving a pile of feathers on the ground (chickens will automatically release feathers to try to get away from a predator).
Well, very recently, I had left the dogs up in the field to do other chores. I usually scan the field to make sure there are no other animals, etc. in there before I leave them. I came back a time later and started walking around the perimeter of the field to give them a bit more exercise. Nessa ran ahead, very normal for her, but she came running back with something in her mouth. She seemed very proud of it and brought it right to me. It was almost unrecognizable. My heart sank. I knew what it was. It was that chicken, brutally handled and eventually killed by the dogs in her attempt to get away from them. I walked around the field and found the place of struggle with a big pile of feathers strewn all around.
You may think “what’s the big deal?” It’s just one of many chickens. Yes, that’s true. But one of the invaluable reasons we have chosen to live out here is to be more in tune with God’s spiritual lessons and types in our daily lives. I believe there are no coincidences with God. He has purpose in *everything*. We always ask Him to search our hearts and grant insight into these things. Well, I started praying for God to help me understand the spiritual side of this. With my own past experiences in mind, several things came to my mind: (these are my own personal observations)
- God brings us under His “wing” and, in His plan, places us under godly authority on this earth (parents, pastors, elders, etc)to act as a covering of spiritual protection
- When we get too confident in our own strength and wander away from our Protector and flock distracted by our own “greener grass”, we are making ourselves vulnerable to the enemy, always watching and waiting for an opportunity to attack
- There are many instances of this in the Bible. Here are just a few:
- Numbers 20:12 – After all that had transpired with God’s mighty deliverance of Israel from Pharaoh and Egypt, Moses and Aaron were kept from entering Canaan because of *one* particular sin when they took their eyes off of God and tried to do something in their own strength.
- Joshua 7 – Joshua, after God granted a great victory at Jericho, relied on the false confidence and faulty wisdom of his spies in the consideration of Israel’s next conquest. He did not seek God first and look to Him for counsel. And all of Israel paid a great price for it.
- 2 Samuel 11 – David, in a slothful time when he was supposed to be out at battle diligently leading his armies and protecting Jerusalem, eyed greener grass when he saw Bathsheba. This one moment of “indiscretion” resulted in a lifetime of sorrow, war and turmoil in David’s life and the lives of his family and subjects.
So the death of this chicken has been a HUGE spiritual lesson and is a great warning and reminder that I am always to be diligent in my Christian walk, not to wander off in my own strength and wisdom or take my eyes off of Christ and put them on “greener grass” thinking I know better than God as to what is best for my life.
1 Peter 5:8: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
Thankfully, our Lord Jesus Christ paid the price to cover the sins of our Old Testament Fathers and all of His children throughout time, however, the price we pay when we don’t do things God’s way can be so devastating and far reaching in this life, detracting from God’s glory.
May each of us seek God and His word first and only, and lean not unto our own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.