Many years ago I had the joy of giving tours and tractor rides to elementary school children who came to learn about life on a working farm. The children were wide-eyed and excited during their visits, but their greatest enthusiasm always came when we brought out the baby animals. And there were plenty, for the farm housed dogs, cats, horses, cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, geese, roosters and hens.
There is something precious about the innocence of young things and I never tired of watching children press in to see and touch the baby calves, piglets, kids, lambs, ducklings and chicks. Many of our little visitors had never come in contact with this element of God’s creation and their wonder always captured my heart.
Not having grown up on a farm, I felt as though I was learning right along side my young friends for frequently the setting provided physical images of Biblical truth. I remember the very first one.
Our mornings began with a time of preparation before the school buses arrived. We would be assigned various tasks and this day I was asked to gather a few chicks from Henrietta’s coop. She had hatched a healthy brood that year and we were going to delight the children with her youngsters. As I approached the cage, I called out a cheery greeting to Henrietta to ready her for my intrusion, but the closer I got the more evident it became that Henrietta was the only occupant. The chicks were gone! I ran to tell the owner the awful news and was puzzled by her smile. She assured me they were indeed with the hen and accompanied me back to the cage, where I was instructed to reach in and lift Henrietta. She protested vigorously and pecked aggressively as I cradled her in my hands and, in the lifting, there emerged five fluffy chicks that had been hidden under her wings. I couldn’t believe it! She had completely concealed them. The 91st Psalm flooded my soul.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord,
“He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
To this day I cannot read these verses without recalling the moment God used a hen and her chicks to reveal how completely His love encompasses us. I’m so glad He did. For in the countless trials of life, there is comfort knowing His children have a place of covering.
The world can be cold and exposure leaves us trembling. That’s a reality, but it’s not without remedy. We haven’t been designed to make our way through life without shelter and the most important is God’s love through the covering of Christ. His desire is to draw us in. It always has been. In the days when Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem, He used this very image to confront those who rejected him. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” (Matthew 23:37)
We live much the same way today in America. We, who have been the recipients of His abundant blessings, are prone to miss what matters. Like chicks in an empty coop, we suffer needlessly for our prideful independence of the One whose shelter we desperately need.
Is that you? Perhaps you’ve functioned for a very long time on your own and weariness has begun to take hold. You feel cold and exposed and your soul longs for rest. Oh dear one, God waits to welcome and cover you with His love. Come to Jesus and you will find a refuge … scripture tells us it is under His wings.