This month seems to be speeding by. Before we know it the cooler weather will set in. Now it’s time to open our eyes to the changes this month has for us, and to see the beauty around us, open our minds to the wonders of what September brings, and open our hearts to those who love us, and always be true to the plans and changes that God has for us.
There have been many changes on the farm this month, like, all newly planted fall vegetables in the garden, the driveway wall is finally getting fixed, and the new members to our chicken family, the Copper Marans, were placed in the chicken yard with the other hens. You might ask, What is the number one thing to do when introducing hens to a new chicken yard with all the other hens? First, keep them in the new coop for about 3 days, up to 3 weeks. Give it at least 3 days before you introduce them to the other hens. Eventually they will start to venture into the new chicken yard. However after we did all that we were supposed to do when introducing new hens to their new family, the family of existing hens attacked them. I had to stay in the chicken yard for over an hour to keep the Copper Marans safe and to show the other hens that I was the “mother hen” of the yard.
It’s been 4 days and they are doing a little better, but I still have to step in at times. You see we have 5 breeds of hens: 4 Rhode Island Reds, 2 Plymouth Rocks, 2 Americana’s, 2 Easter Eggers, and 2 of our newest hens, the Copper Marians. What makes each breed special is their egg color. The Rhode Island Red egg is a light tan, the Plymouth Rock a little darker tan, the Americana a much darker tan, the Easter Eggers a blue and green, and the Copper Marans a very chocolate egg.
Whenever I am working with my animals on the farm I see so many spiritual lessons. The Copper Marans are very different in many ways from the other hens. They are black in color with streaks of an iridescent green and brown in their feathers. The other hens acted like they did not like the Copper Marans because they were different, or perhaps just that they were new. They were not a part of the group. It’s normal to wish that others were different than they are—usually we want them to be more like us. Problems surface when we become self-righteous, angry, fault-finding, nagging, or otherwise try to pressure others to change rather than accepting their differences. This is how the hens were behaving with the Copper Marans. I watched them go into a huddle as if they were talking about these “outsiders”. They even tried to keep them from eating the feed that I threw out in the yard. It was amazing watching this. I couldn’t help thinking “this is how some people act when others look different than they do, or dress and behave differently.
I found a story illustrates what my heart is trying to say. It speaks about unkind attitudes, and how quickly we judge people based on appearances. But when we allow God to soften our hearts how quickly unkind attitude can change.
As you know, in the late 1960’s there were a lot of cultural upheavals that resulted in a wide gap between the younger and older generations, both in attitude and appearance. Hudson Armerding was the president of Wheaton College at the time. He had fought for our country during World War II, and as a member of that generation, was conservative in his grooming and attire. He also despised the counter-culture movement, because to him it represented unpatriotic draft-resisters, flag burners, and the like. So he did not like it when students dressed in the grubby counter-cultural fashion. Also, he thought that it was biblically inappropriate for men to have long hair. But the staff at Wheaton was trying to permit a degree of liberty among the students on this matter.
One day Armerding was scheduled to speak in chapel. Just before the service, they gathered for prayer. Before they began, a young man walked in who had a beard and long hair, and was wearing a sash around his waist, with sandals on his feet. Armerding looked at him and was sorry that he had come in. Worse yet, the student sat down right next to the president. When they started praying, Armerding did not have a very good attitude.
Then the young man began to pray: “Dear Lord, you know how much I admire Dr. Armerding, how I appreciate his walk with you. I am grateful for what a man of God he is, and how he loves you and loves your people. Lord, bless him today. Give him liberty in the Holy Spirit and make him a real blessing to all of us in the student body. Help us to have open hearts to hear what he has to say, and may we do what you want us to do.”
As Armerding walked down the steps to go into the chapel, the Lord spoke to him about his attitude. After giving his message, he asked the young man to come to the platform. A ripple of whispering went through the students, many of whom thought that the president was going to dismiss the young man from school as an example to the rest of the students. But rather than rebuking him or dismissing him, everyone including the young man was surprised when Dr. Armerding put his arms around him and embraced him as a brother in Christ. It broke up the chapel service, as students stood and applauded, cried and embraced one another.
God used that simple act of one man laying aside his prejudice to turn the mood on campus to greater love and acceptance of one another. Dr. Armerding later learned that this young man had adopted his appearance in order to reach some of his generation who were alienated from God and the church (Hudson Armerding, Leadership [Tyndale], pp. 166-168).
Dr. Armerding put into practice what Paul tells us all to do (Rom. 15:7), “Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.” Paul is concluding his appeal to the (mostly Gentile) strong and the (mostly Jewish) weak factions in the Church of Rome to show the love of Christ to each other. In 14:1, he told those who were strong to accept those who were weak in faith. But, here, he extends the command to both sides.
In Romans 14:3 Paul told the “weaker” believers not to judge the “strong” because God has accepted him. Here he tells both sides to accept one another because Christ has accepted them. For Paul, Christ is clearly God. But Paul’s goal in the section we are looking at here is that the Gentile and Jewish believers in Rome would not only genuinely accept one another in their daily relationships, but also that they would join together in fervent worship to God for His mercy in accepting us through Jesus Christ.
Accept others, including those who are different from you, for the glory of God, because Christ accepted you, and all peoples, for the glory of God. We are to accept one another to God’s glory just as Christ accepted us to God’s glory (Romans 15:7).
I pray for my animals every night. My prayer for my hens is that they will accept the Copper Marans and start treating them like part of the group. Each day I see a little improvement, and the copper Marans don’t seem as frighten as they were in the beginning, and they are mingling more with the other hens. God wants animals to accept each other, too!
In closing, I found this quote I feel fits so well: “Don’t judge the day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.” Let’s make sure the seeds we plant fit the Character of Christ.