A few days ago a wonderful neighbor shared some of her experiences with chickens. The parallels to our own lives were pretty profound.
I think the message is worth passing on to you.
It’s a rare treat to see an egg that has been cared for and watched over and kept warm for so long, to at last begin to crack and open. So often the metamorphosis from egg to baby chick happens seemingly unnoticed by the world, with only broken eggshells and a new, tiny chick to tell the tale.
We usually witness the before and after parts of this baby chick’s journey, but we miss the during part if we aren’t careful.
If you have had the opportunity to witness this slow miracle of birth, you would know that baby chicks are given an extra little hook on the end of their beak to help pick at the shell. It goes away as the chick grows, but it was there at just the right time it was needed.
Slowly poking and pushing, the beak will first appear through a hole in the egg. Then a small section of egg may break away and reveal a mass of wet and matted down that promises to become protective feathers, which will replace the hard outer shell that is being broken away. The full feathers can’t come until the egg shell has been removed.
To say it is not easy breaking away this tough protective layer would be a dramatic understatement.
Often the baby chick will get its head free and then flop to the side and rest its neck on the edge of the shell, its body worn out from the overwhelming task.
If you are watching this miracle, you may begin to worry that the chick isn’t going to get all of the shell off. Well-meaning and tender-hearted witnesses are tempted to reach in and break away the rest of the shell for the chick, giving it its freedom.
But the wise know to just stand back and watch. They will make sure the room is warm enough, and that the roof is protective from both sun and rain, and will stand guard against intruders.
But they will let the chick decide if it will continue the fight.
This is the most difficult yet greatest form of love because it is all about what the chick needs, and not about what the watcher may feel or want while observing.
Those who truly understand know that if someone else impatiently breaks away the remainder of the chick’s shell, the baby chick will die.
So, after a much-deserved rest, the picking and breaking resumes, until finally the baby chick has freed itself from what was once a protection, but would have quickly become a tomb had it not been willing to do the work for the next phase of its existence.
Certainly it was safe and warm and secure in the shell. It was appropriate for the chick to be there in the tender development from embryo to physical being.
But after choosing the work of becoming, there is simply no going back and trying to stuff itself into a shell that is too small and no longer intact.
So, if going back is not an option, then that only leaves going forward.
It may be scary in the unknown barnyard. There are other baby chicks who try to rule the roost. The stronger may be able to scratch out more of the food, leaving less behind. Other animals with completely different needs and wants compete for the attention from the farmer, and sometimes they just take matter into their own hands by stomping on naïve little chicks.
Of course, there is always the possibility of becoming someone’s Sunday dinner.
After that, who knows?
The possibilities are endless.
We are all baby chicks breaking out of our latest shell and growing new feathers. I hope we truly understand that there is a constant and loving Observer with the wisdom to know just what it is we need and when we need it.
I guess the question is, when we find ourselves flopped over the edge of our broken shell in exhaustion, do we remember that?
Rather than be upset that He isn’t pulling away the remainder of our shell fast enough, perhaps we should be more grateful He is patient enough to let us do it in our own time.
And then follow His example with our own, tender young baby chicks.