My family and I have kept free-range chickens for the last few years. It has been a very fun adventure! One challenge is keeping the hens from being eaten by predators, so every night we close them up in their coop.
Last night I went outside to lock the chickens up for the night. I counted, “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven… Uh oh, where is Louise?”After checking around the yard, I went back into the house and asked for help finding the feathery escapee. We looked everywhere, but no luck. We were all starting to get discouraged, and cold too. (It was about 20 degrees, and no one had a good coat on).
Then I remembered another time when this same chicken had jumped over the fence during the day and was too dumb to find her way back home, so I had to go fetch her. Maybe the same thing had happened, and this time Louise had just settled down somewhere safe for the night. So I hopped over the fence with a flashlight and started looking around.
I had taken only a few steps when I saw a chicken-sized lump on the ground in the leaves. After closer investigation, I discovered the missing hen, deep in a makeshift nest. I was relieved that Louise had not been a midnight snack for a hungry fox and that she would soon be safe back in the coop.
Later that night our family discussed parallels between this story and the parable of the lost sheep in the Bible. In this parable, Jesus explains that a man lost one of his sheep, looked for it, and found it. When he found the missing sheep he rejoiced over it even more than the others that had not been lost. Jesus then likens this parable unto the fact that when one sinner repents, God rejoices over that one person even more than he rejoices over all those who are righteous.
I thought it was neat how my whole family came out to help. We all felt this sense of urgency and looked everywhere, but could not find her. Everyone was feeling sad because we had raised this bird from a chick and cared about her. When I found Louise, I was struck by the fact that she was directly over the fence from her coop — she got as close to home as she could on her own. And yes, we were definitely rejoicing more over the found chicken than the rest of the birds that were safe in the coop!
This experience really strengthened my understanding of how our Heavenly Father loves us. I had the opportunity to really feel the panic of losing a pet, and the joy of finding her again. The most important lesson for me was remembering that each of us needs to be rescued by Jesus Christ. We can’t reach God on our own, we need Christ to make up the difference and bring us home.