“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.


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

How Far is Too Far

Often students will ask me – how far is too far?

What they really want to know is – how far can I go physically without having sex while still enjoying the physical benefits and satisfaction?

In other words – I want to have sex. But my parents will kill me.

To all the Christian parents out there doing the hard work I want you to know – I have talked to these kids. They want to live a life honorable to the Lord. They want to figure out ways to navigate and overcome this sexually saturated culture. Everywhere they go our culture feeds their sexual appetite. As soon as they walk out of the door of their homes it’s as if they don’t stand a chance. God made all of us to enjoy sex within the precious, sacred, and safe walls of marriage. Let’s be honest!  Most of us didn’t wait until marriage for sex, but our transparency with our kids may be the very thing that God uses to save them from some very heart breaking mistakes.

Our culture has exploited sex so much that when our kids – HECK, when all of us – open our eyes every morning, sex is in the commercials and television shows we watch, the music we hear, and in the images we see all around us. Our appetite for arousal is constantly being fed. It is no wonder our boys (and girls) struggle with their thought life.

So how far is too far? How far will our kids let their relationships go physically? How do we prepare them for these moments? Our kids often look for someone to hand them a set of rules.  They have grown accustomed to this especially on the issue of sex. However, if we think back on our generation and the generation before that and the one before that, rules did not prevent much. With most other parenting issues rules restrict behavior, but when it comes to sex our attitude and our approach have to be different. Just like rules didn’t stop our generation they won’t stop this generation either.

Our kids’ behavior toward their sexuality and the way they choose to honor God with it will be born out of their relationship with Jesus Christ. When our kids find themselves alone with their boyfriend/girlfriend and they are now faced with the proverbial question – how far is too far? The answer is – tell them to go as far as they feel comfortable going as if their own father were sitting right there in the room with them. I know! This idea may sound hilarious!  But why is this important? Because fathers are the protectors and guardians of their virtue, honor, and dignity. Single mothers?  The concept is still the same.  For those who have poor earthly fathers as examples?  Again, the concept still stands.  Why?  No matter what, our kids have a Heavenly Father.  Whether they know it or not, and whether they feel his presence or not, he is there.

The emphasis is on the importance of a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is with them.  He is with all of us who have put our trust in him to direct our lives.  He is going to be what guides our kids through the tough times, through the trials, and through the temptations. We can’t always save our kids but we can point them to their Savior.

“Our YES to God produces a NO to sin.” – Greg Matte

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2