It’s nearly 3 a.m. I’m sitting on a low stool, crouched next to the woodstove, hugged by the creosote steel doors that threaten to wrap around me. I work the fire, attempting to bring it to life. Coals are not willing to give heed to the wood that is placed on them. I wait…tired and wanting to be back in my warm sleeping bag. I’m wanting to be warm. Wanting to forget what happened just a half-hour earlier.
An hour earlier, I rose to a quiet, cold, still night. Stars filled the sky as I stumbled out the cabin door, heading to the outhouse with Zip, our Blue Heeler, in tow. Our cabin kitty, now living outdoors, was nowhere in sight. She usually greets us on these middle of the night treks.
Upon entering the cabin, I set to work on getting the stove going. Within minutes, one of our female sled dogs, who is known for her “tattle tale-ing” set off with a frenetic warning bark. She continued on for several minutes, not liking the fact that whatever was out there, wasn’t taking her seriously. Realizing my best (and only) headlamp was defunct, I shined a weak light out the side window to let her know I heard her warning, and to stop barking. She paused, but then continued with a renewed fervor. I then told her “o.k.”…and she let out a heavy, grunting sigh, as if to say “…o.k., I tried to warn you. Whatever happens, it’s on you…”
Sitting back down on the handcrafted cherry-wood stool, I fiddled with the fire some more. Then I heard it. I squawk…not really a squawk, but a bleat – a cry for help. Grabbing my defunct headlamp, I slammed the batteries in, making it temporarily work, and headed outside. I could hear the cry/squawk/bleat as it retreated from the cabin area. Every thirty or so yards it let out a sound. It was traveling by foot. But not on its own accord - it was being carried. I realized by now it was one of our chickens. It was one of the worst sounds and situations I’ve heard. I couldn’t image the terror of being roosted for the night only to be snatched by a coyote’s toothy grip. Carried away, to certain death. Every thirty or so yards, I heard it, until they disappeared into the south woods.
I shined my light into the fenced dog yard and verbally thanked Skunk, the sled dog, for her warning, and headed back inside. Upon sitting down once again, I hung my head in sadness. It had to be one of the young batch, hatched earlier this summer that roosted on their own, not willing to enter the safety of the latched chicken coop door that held the flock.
As I finally got the fire going, I also had come to a another realization. Although taught by the Mamma hen, that young bird had made a choice to not pick the safety of the flock, and also our oversight each morning and night as we open the door of the coop to let them out, and tuck them in at night. It had mistakenly believed it was safe out on its own. And now it was gone, dying a frightful, confusing death. The analogy was clear. We, as intelligent humans, are given God’s word, in the form of the Bible – God breathed and God inspired. Jesus tells us we are safe in His arms. As His sheep, we are safe in the arms of the Good Shepherd.
In the book of John, Jesus tells us: Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.
We, too, have a choice. It is free for the taking. All you need to do is come to the Father…the Good Shepherd. Do you hear Him calling for you? He leaves the 99 to gather up the one – the lost sheep. If you are lost…seek Him. Peace will flood your soul.
May peace be to everyone.
Until next time…Lord willing,