Chickens and Discipleship

Next door to our home, the urban farm is alive with bees hovering, fruit trees growing strong, blackberries creeping up fence-posts, and watermelons expanding like balloons among the bright marigolds. While these are all beautiful to behold, we have new favorite subjects inhabiting this tenth of an acre lot. Two weeks ago nine 12-week-old chickens were delivered: four bold Barred Rocks and five regal Araucanas. These delightful birds are quickly making themselves at home in their new coop, and we eagerly anticipate them providing us with some hyper-local eggs in due course. While we are excited about enjoying the edible bounty of our urban farm (honey, fruit, vegetables, and eggs), we are also mindful that caring for the land and its creatures works to form us into certain kinds of people. The true fruit arrives as our lives are transformed. We become students of these marvelous birds-–their likes and dislikes, their rest and their play–and in turn we become better disciples of our Creator God. The writer of Proverbs esteems wisdom as the highest goal for humans and in this regard, draws our attention to creation (creature!) care: “The wise know the needs of their animals” (Proverbs 12:10). Job points out that animals direct our attention to the Creator. He argues against the apparent wisdom of his friends and for the genius of the “animals, plants, and fish” who, “teach, tell, and declare” the truth about God’s ways (Job 12:7-10). Last, but certainly not least, Jesus likens his own love and self-sacrifice to that of a mother hen (Luke 13:34). As we steward these chickens and other creatures in our care we discover an ironic truth. We can only reach our full, God-defined humanity as we humbly give our concern and attention to the other creatures God has made. All the theory in the world will not make us Christ like. If we are to truly be sons and daughters of the most-high God, we will need to get our hands dirty and become humble stewards of God’s loving handiwork. So, we watch our new neighbors in the chicken run. We watch carefully for the brave ones, the skittish ones, and the ones that are first to race toward a fresh bucket of kitchen scraps. We watch with the expectation that we will discover more about the character and love of our Creator God and that we will be transformed into the true humanity Jesus modeled for us.

Geoff Maddock makes his home with his wife, Sherry and 8-year-old son, Isaac in downtown Lexington, KY. He is a missionary in his neighborhood and serves on the board of Seedleaf ( ) while also working part-time for Blessed Earth.

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