One of the most vivid scenes in my memory occurred one lazy summer on my uncle’s one-hundred-acre farm in Michigan. My brother and I were in luck because my aunt, who cared for the farm’s poultry concerns, had just purchased 50 baby chicks to raise. These soft little balls of yellow seemed like dandelion fluff blown across the prairie in the summer wind.
By the hour we watched the tiny creatures peck grain and draw at the water tubes. On warm days they were confined in a chicken run where they could hop about and forage in the gentle sunshine.
Aunt Dina decided to leave the chicks in the run one afternoon when we went to town. While there, the clouds gathered with startling suddenness. Thunder rumbled down the valley, and the sky exploded with a vehement rain such as we had never seen before.
Aunt Dina drove home, her face drawn and grim. We knew she was dreadfully worried about the chicks. And her worry was not without cause, for when we pulled up the drive and raced to the chicken run, we saw the tiny yellow things in grotesque contortions, some struggling to get up, others still as death under burial sheets of rain. Two of the three hens nestled on the ground with glassy eyes and bulging sides—bulging because of the chicks gathered beneath their rain-soaked wings.
Aunt Dina lost 25 of the 50 chicks. Most of those sheltered beneath mamma’s wings were still alive. We nursed them back to health under heat lamps in the living room.
The sight of the one desperate hen, her eyes wide and glassy with fright, wings scraping the ground as she chased the scattering chicks, is a memory as vivid today as it was then. For it is so like the scene Jesus described as He wept over Jerusalem: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37).
Like my Aunt Dina’s chicks, the people of Jerusalem who heard Jesus speak had no idea of the storm that was coming. They didn’t believe that they needed Him, that their lives depended on Him in spite of the warnings of Jesus and the prophets before Him.
God does not offer us merely a shelter in the midst of turmoil. Revealed in the potent image of the hen with her chicks is the possibility of taking part in the very life of God.
Marlene Chase, Pictures from the Word