Today is a sad day, y’all.
I went outside this morning to collect the eggs from the chickens and ducks. When I opened the little red roost door, I found my hen, Audrey, dead in the roost with her sister Mary sitting next to her crying a little chicken cry.
Fun fact- Yes chickens cry. Not really tears, just sad little noises. All of mine have done it each time I lost a bird.
Cause of death? No clue. It made me sad, of course.
So, in honor of my little Audrey Henbird, were going to talk about something she taught me about Bible study. Yep, you can learn from anyone or anything. Even a bubbly, ditzy chicken.
My flock free ranges the back yard (Don’t tell the HOA…) and the chickens are master foragers. Fluffy little Audrey would walk around all day pecking at various little bugs that I could never really identify (or see for that matter). Her fellow chicken friend, Mary, would sit up in the roost on top of the eggs, while Audrey just kept walking around the yard eating flies, mosquitoes, worms, and any other bugs she could get her beak on.
I could sit out there for hours and just watch her peck at the ground.
Yeah I’m a loser.
What does that have to do with Bible study? It’s just a chicken BEING a chicken!
Well Reader, that little silkie chicken was so diligent everyday to dig and scratch around for bugs that were below the surface, deeper in the earth. Sure, she got some top soil beetles, grass and chicken feed. But the good stuff, the earth worms, grubs, and other creepy crawlies were underneath the surface. She had to put in some special effort to find those treats.
Grub worms…. Appetizing, right?
It’s the same for us when we study the scriptures. If we only skim the surface of the text, we’ll get a little something. But the good stuff that really makes a passage interesting is found through deeper studying and learning the special history and back story of a passage. If you want the worms, you gotta dig!
Want an example?
We all the know the story of the prodigal son. I bet even an atheist could tell me that one.
The son wants his inheritance early. The Father gives it to him. He blows all the money and ends up as a pig farmer’s ranch hand, sleeping in the barn and eating the slop.
He goes home to ask to be his fathers servant. The father forgives him and they have a party.
They all live happily ever after…
If that’s all were getting from this story, WE’VE MISSED IT. We haven’t dug deeper.
We gotta hone our inner foraging chicken….
What you may not know is that, when the son asks for the inheritance, it was the rudest thing he could have possibly said to his father in those days.
Basically he says, “Hey dad, I kinda wish you would just die already so I can have my inheritance money sooner… Can I just have it early?”
We know what happens next. He gets it. Imagine the father hurt and maybe offended, but he gives it to him anyways because he knows his son needs to learn a hard lesson.
So then, as we all know, he spends it on his party lifestyle and everything that comes with that (and I do mean EVERYTHING).
He ends up working, like I said earlier, as a pig farmer’s ranch hand. Eating the slop and sleeping in the mud. How pathetic.
What you may not know is that pigs, or swine, were unclean animals to the Jews under Levitical law. They could not eat them, touch them, or farm them. This signifies how low the prodigal is at this point. So low that he is basically a pig alongside the pigs. Eating what they eat. Sleeping where they sleep. Cleaning up after them. Yuck.
So he says to himself, “Self, even my fathers servants are paid, fed, and taken care of. I’ll go back, not as a son, but as a servant.” He is at an all time low. He knows he doesn’t deserve forgiveness from his father after what he has done.
We all know the next part- he goes home. His father immediately forgives him and the party is started.
What you may not know is that the Father has been waiting day in and day out for his son’s return. When he see’s his youngest boy walking down the lane towards the house, the Father runs to him. In those days, it was a shame for old men to run. But he ran anyways because he loved his son so much. That little tidbit makes the story all the more tear jerking and special.
He didn’t just forgive him and hire him on as a servant. He loved him enough to wait everyday and then run as fast as he could up to meet him. That prodigal son deserved nothing less than to be exiled from the family. Any other Jewish father in that day would’ve been praised as wise for doing so. But he wasn’t cast out. He was received as a son and forgiven.
This represents our story with God. We disobey and run away, hit rock bottom, and then come home and receive unmerited grace from our heavenly Father.
Without those little facts about the customs in those days, this story quickly becomes just another parable. But to know how horribly rude it was of the son to ask for the inheritance, how low the prodigal really became, and then how loving the father really was, it makes the story all the more special. It gives us more to glean from it.
Just like my little Audrey, when we dig deeper and learn more, we glean more.
So take a lesson from a chicken today and dig deep into God’s word with diligence. Just keep pecking at it and scratching around in it until you find your worm. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and teach you.
I don’t know what happens to animals when they die, but I know that I will miss my sweet little hen. She was like a kitten with a beak.
Maybe I’m just a weirdo that makes friends with chickens. I think we get along so well because I’m a bird brain too! 😉
Anyhow, we can all learn from the little fluff-butt.
Seek Adventure and DIG DEEPER!