fire in the chicken coop

Needy Chicks


When my husband was a young boy, he lived down the road from his grandfather’s farm.  One morning Grandpa called and asked him to come as soon as possible.  He needed help because the chicken coop had burned the night before.  The fire department had been called.  They put out the fire but there was a mess to be cleaned up.

What my husband saw is still imprinted on his heart.  The yard was a mess.  The carefully constructed coop was destroyed.  But worst of all, the beautiful Rhode Island Red roosters and  hens with their colorful, fluffy feathers – those hens which had provided eggs for the family were dead.  All of them.

But it was when Grandpa scraped his heavy shoe to move the carcass of a dead hen that a picture of God’s sweet provision broke through.

Nestled under the wings of that charred hen were six little yellow chicks.  Scared, but alive. Their mother had died in the fire, but they were hidden under her downy wings and did not suffocate or burn.  When Grandpa’s shoe freed them, they scurried across the yard looking for something to eat.

That story always reminds me of the Scripture in Matthew where Jesus says, “…how often have I longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”

Jesus gives us this comforting, nurturing chick statement as he is agonizing.  Agonizing over those in spiritual leadership who dictate what it means to love God from their own personal biases.   This beautiful picture of love and compassion is given right after he has spared no words to let hypocritics know what he thinks of their arrogant attitudes.  Jesus tells the crowd to obey them as far as the law is concerned because they have authority.  But he quickly adds, “Do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.”

I expect Jesus to agonize over the needy.  His words and actions confirm that throughout the gospels.  But here I see Jesus agonizing over those who feel they have no need.  He longs to gather under his wings those who have an incessant need to be unneedy.  And he sees this un-neediness as destructive to the human spirit as the fire in the chicken coop. He desires to gather them to himself.  But they were not willing.  Too busy.  Too important.  Too pre-occupied.  Too distracted.  Too perfect.

I guess there is a place for all of us in these few sentences.  We all need compassion, whether we know we have a need or have no idea we have a need.  And at some point, perhaps we all long to be gathered as chicks beneath the wings of the one who loves us and protects us from all which would destroy us. 

Love, Ruth

Ruth Vander Zee
Journey of Faith


Ruth Vander Zee

Ruth Vander Zee
On our journey, I believe Jesus desires us to be our authentic, child-of-God selves.

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