“A Tale of Two Chickens,” Part 2

By: Lala Ball, Guest Contributor

Patti, a responsible chicken farmer AND a friend of mine from Iowa, Louisiana, right outside of Lake Charles, has a very small mixed flock of laying hens in her backyard. Although Patti would say she doesn’t play favorites when it comes to her chickens, she does have one that has recently become most near and dear to her heart.

Peachy is a Golden Buff hen, a truly beautiful bird. Peachy, along with the others, stays in a small modular chicken house with still plenty of backyard space to free range within an enclosed area. The backyard enclosure, for the most part, keeps Patti’s chickens in and any threats to her little flock at bay. One day, though, Patti was in the house when she heard the hens start to squawk and cackle in a panicked way. Because they’re congenial for the most part and not easily ruffled, Patti went quickly to check on them and there he was—an evil enemy—a dog—a mutt—whom she didn’t recognize with Peachy in his mouth, running and running fast out of Patti’s yard.

So, Patti, as anyone would, gave chase to the dog, screaming at it to drop Peachy; but the dog paid absolutely no attention to her and had her outrun before she even could get out into her own front yard. In fact, Patti got out into the front yard just in time to see the mutt disappear in a quick left turn about two blocks down the street and he still had Peachy in his mouth as he made his getaway.

Now as circumstance would have it, Patti’s across-the-street neighbor heard all the commotion and came out to see Patti trying to run down the mutt that had her chicken. Turning around, the neighbor whistled to his chocolate Labrador Retriever, gave him a command that Patti didn’t hear, and his dog took off after the thieving mutt and ran down the street and out of sight as he gave chase. And the Lab, like the mutt, disappeared around the corner a couple of blocks down from Patti’s house, too.

Those dogs—both of them—were gone—just gone—or so it seemed. Then, as Patti and the neighbor stared down the street for a minute or two, believe it or not, here came the Lab with Peachy in his teeth. Yep. Here he came trotting up those blocks with the little Golden Buff in his mouth.

(Perhaps I should tell you at this point that this really IS a true story. I don’t know if I would have believed it myself except for the fact that Patti is my honest friend and she was the one telling me. This also is the point in the story when I was telling my mother about it, that she said, “Yep. And Peachy was dead, too, wasn’t she?” What an optimistic little Meemaw she is! Because “no,” Peachy was very much alive and completely unharmed.)

The Retriever dropped Peachy at his master’s feet and, though she was a little rattled because of her recent near death experience, her momentary confusion gave Patti a moment to scoop her up and return her to the backyard.
You see, as it turned out, the chocolate Lab is really a great duck hunter. He is his master’s champion Retriever, and duck dogs know how to hold a duck in their mouths gently—without putting teeth in which would ruin the meat. And because his master sent a surprising rescuer who probably scared Peachy every bit as much as the mutt had, Peachy was granted the grace of an extended chicken life during which she can continue her service to Patti’s family by laying eggs faithfully for them each and every day.

So what is the point in these two silly chicken stories? Well, there is one and here it is.

Many of you reading this today may feel the mutt’s teeth around you as you feel a growing desperation in your spirit. You may feel like you are on a collision course with death, or destruction, or discouragement. You may not know which way to turn because nothing seems to be working anymore. You’re exhausted and you have no strength left.
In this situation, you need to remember one thing and it is this: Your Master has a Champion sitting at His right hand. His Champion, your Rescuer, lives with His eyes on you, and when you utter those two simple words in your hour of desperation—“Help, Lord!”—Your Master’s Champion is coming for you.

But here is the deal, and it’s this part of the whole situation that may be causing some of us not only confusion today, but frustration, and needless anxiety. You see, the truth is this: Those teeth that you feel at your throat today may not be the teeth, after all, of the mutt, but may, in fact, actually be the teeth of your Rescuer who has everything under control. It may not seem that way to you anymore than it seemed that way to Peachy as you look at the circumstances that you face. You may be asking yourself over and over, “How in the world can God possibly be in this misery?” This is true whether the source of your misery is someone else or misery that you caused for yourself.
Please breathe deeply for just a minute and think about this: No matter how out of control things feel at this moment, you may very well be on the verge of having all your desperate prayers answered and if that isn’t the case, I know that your Father in heaven is working through everything that you are feeling and facing to bring you into a deeper relationship with Him than you have ever known before even as you wait for His rescue.

Please remember today that delay in an answer to your prayers is not denial and desperation can be a huge source of spiritual energy for you when it causes you to throw yourself completely on God and pray the desperate prayer of “Help, help, Lord.”

Please remember, too, that God is always on time. It may seem like your answer will never arrive and better times will never return, but if God has said it, it will come to pass. You may have to pass through the storm on the way, or through the teeth of a mutt or a Retriever, and you may have to fight some giants like David did in the Old Testament or a lion or two like Daniel. But everyone who has experienced the deliverance of God has had to come to this place. Desperation is a breeding ground for miracles.

So what should you do today? Like before, you keep walking. Refuse to be discouraged. Remember again whose you are. And don’t forget that those teeth that you feel may actually be the teeth of your Rescuer. And if they aren’t, be sure of this—your Rescuer is on the way. Don’t forget either that the One who owns you also has called you. If you continue to walk it out with Him, He will make certain that you get where you need to be. Just keep walking in the direction that He has led.

Father, thank you for allowing us at times in our Christian walk to reach a point of desperation because it is there that we see most clearly that you are with us and have been with us all the time. When we feel those teeth around us, because we know you, Lord, help us to understand that they may very well be the teeth of our Rescuer that you have sent our way. Help us to learn to trust. Help us to understand that the simple prayer of “Help, Lord” is all that you require and you are there—ready to help, ready to protect, ready to rescue, for it is in your Son’s name that I pray. Amen.


“A Tale of Two Chickens,” Part 1

By: Lala Ball, Guest Contributor

It came as a great surprise to my daughter one early morning to hear the doorbell ring at her front door AND to find her neighbor standing there in her red bath robe to deliver a complaint about my daughter’s sweet-never-would-hurt-a-fly pure breed Boxer.

“Your dog,” she complained, “has been stealing and killing my chickens.”

My daughter, stunned, said, “You must be mistaken. Our dog doesn’t have a violent bone in her body. She wouldn’t hurt any living creature. I don’t know what is getting your chickens, but it isn’t our dog. Our dog stays in her own yard.”

“Well, that’s just it,” the neighbor said. “My chickens kind of go everywhere looking for food. They’re free rangers and they look all over hunting bugs to eat and your dog doesn’t need to bother them even when they aren’t in our yard.”

“She wouldn’t,” my daughter assured her. “She is not a killer.”

“Well, okay,” the neighbor said, “but I saw her with a chicken in her mouth and she better leave my chickens alone.”

And then the neighbor left.

Well, as things would happen, the next morning my daughter was looking out the front window and there went their sweet family dog down the road, coming from the direction of the neighbor’s house, with a big black speckled Dominique hen in her mouth.

Hysterical, my daughter caller her husband at work and told him about the dog’s crime and he assured her that he would handle it with the neighbor. And he did. He called the neighbor and confessed what happened, apologized, and promised to pay for the loss of her hen. But he also told the neighbor she might want to consider a fence around that part of her yard where she has chickens, because, isn’t it true? “A dog’s gotta do what a dog’s gotta do!”

It was a tough spot for my daughter’s dog to be in, but it was an even tougher spot for the little Dominique. And you may be able to relate.

When a dog or person or circumstance or situation in your life has its teeth around your body and is carrying you off to what you know to be a certain death, a good prayer to throw up to your Father in heaven is “Help, Lord.” There really isn’t time for you to go home and write a prayer or recite one you’ve memorized or even to go into any details or specifics regarding your tough situation. “Help, Lord” is about all you can manage and “Help, Lord” has to be enough.

Our Dominique might have benefitted from a prayer like that if she had happened to be a chicken of faith, but more than likely she probably just didn’t have the thoughtful insight to do that.

But we do, don’t we? We know how to pray. We can spit out the Lord’s Prayer. Some of us even know the ACTS of prayer—adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. And most of us, if pressed, can pray in the language of Zion with plenty of thees, thys, thous, and so forth.

But the truth is, when you’re the chicken and the dog has got his teeth around your neck, and we all find ourselves in a tough, desperate situation from time to time, there really just isn’t time to do any fancy praying and the only thing that we have the time for and, really, the only thing that we need to pray is “Help, Lord,” and His word promises us that He hears us.

Yes, y’all, in a desperate situation, a critical situation, a life and death situation, all our theological wordiness goes right out the window and we cry out a heart-wrenching prayer of “Help Lord” and we can know that it is enough and He hears us.

In Mark 6 Jesus had been preaching to a huge crowd. He was very tired and the crowd kept closing in. He sent his disciples in a boat over the Sea of Galilee to a little place called Bethsaida while He went off by Himself up on the mountain to pray.

As it started to get late and night was coming, He saw them over on the lake fighting against a storm that had come up. Knowing they needed help, Jesus started toward them on the water, meaning to pass by them when they saw Him. Frightened out of their minds, certain that He was a ghost, their terror was pretty obvious until He identified Himself with a reassuring “it is I” and then they immediately calmed down. He got in the boat with them and—whoosh—the wind calmed and they went on their way.

Now the reason they had found themselves in this situation to begin with had been because they were obeying a word from the Master—“Cross over to the other side.” Jesus had a destiny in mind for them and in their obedience to His direction for their lives, they came up on one of the biggest struggles they would ever face. Right there where they were doing exactly what Jesus Himself had told them to do, a monumental storm arose.

And isn’t that exactly how it is at times? The Lord reveals to us what we are convinced is His will, we step out in obedience to what He has told us, and then it starts—one challenge after the next.

You may have been following a word from the Master, too. And in the everyday planning of your life as you’ve taken definite obedient steps to follow Him, you may have run smack dab into a storm. Now anybody can obey God when the sun is out and there’s no storm in sight, but it takes people of faith to keep walking when the wind picks up and a storm is brewing. In fact, it just may be one of the most positive testimonies to your correct discernment of the will of God for your life when you begin to face obstacles because it is, unfortunately, a fact of the spiritual battle we are in that the enemy will resist us along with any and all efforts we make toward obeying the Lord when we step out in faith and move in the direction He has pointed us. But he won’t win. He can’t win—unless we let him.
This may be the very situation you find yourself in today, but don’t be discouraged, take courage in the fact that the One who called you will make certain that you get where you need to if you keep on walking in the direction He has led.

And while you continue to walk out His will, keep these things in mind:

  • Stay the course even in the middle of the storm and don’t forget to call on Him—“Help, Lord!”
  • Keep your eyes on the Master—not the storm. He has not let go of you.
  • Remember that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it in you until the day of Christ Jesus!

Editor’s Note: Stay tuned for “A Tale of Two Chickens,” Part 2—Yes, there is a point to these chicken stories.

Jesus Is Not the Reason For the Season

This holiday season has caught me by surprise. In the past I haven’t struggled to find joy in the normal things – the music, the laughter, the light on my children’s faces. For some reason, though, this Christmas I found myself more than typically wishing for and wondering what could have been. I even wrestled with anger over past hurts and allowed myself to sink deep in sadness over the loved ones I have had to say good-bye to far earlier than I ever would have imagined.

I have placed my trust and belief in God who says he is all-knowing (omniscient) and all-present (omnipresent). To believe that a sovereign God loves me yet allows heartbreak and injustice to happen in the world is truly one of the biggest mysteries of God. To wrestle with my own insecurities and feelings of unworthiness were easier this holiday season than they should have been having known in my heart what Christmas as a Christian is supposed to represent.

Jesus is the not the reason for the season. He is the reason for every single day of my life.

What conviction! Oh how easy it is to put my focus on Christ for short amounts of time – at Christmas and at Easter. That’s not too much to give up. Yes, it is hard to understand why awful things happen in this world especially to those who are so undeserving. But then I am reminded of one of the biggest injustices of all – a parent losing a child.

God, my Father in Heaven, gave up his only son to die for everyone in this world – those our society would consider deserving AND those our society would consider undeserving. Truth is no one is deserving of the true gift of Christmas. But this is not how God sees it. He loved the world so much that he sent his son to be born, to live among us, to die, and then to be raised from the dead. That last part is hard for many to believe but without that piece of the story I wouldn't have the promise that one day I would be united with my loved ones in Heaven. But more importantly than that, having known Christ defeated death I now can believe that one day I will see the actual face of my Savior - the One who died for me. This was all part of God’s beautiful and loving plan for all of us, not just me, so that those who believed in Jesus and lived their lives according to their belief in him could spend eternity with him in Heaven.

I am so thankful the Lord used my loss of focus and sense of distraction this holiday season to remind me that my attention needs to be on him every day, not just twice a year. I am thankful, too, that in the pulling away I remembered how much I needed his nearness.

How about you? Could it be that in your pulling away the Lord is simply trying to remind you of your need for him? In our frustration we like to think God has forgotten us or maybe even forsaken us when sometimes he just wants to remind us of the importance of his presence. The gift of Christmas is meant to be unwrapped every day, but just like a tangible gift cannot open itself nor can the gift of the Holy Spirit do its work in your life without you doing your part. You must seek after it. Run after it if you must. His word promises - draw close to him and he will draw near to you. No one is a friend like Jesus.

“For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” –Romans 10:13