With the extreme weather we had in the Midwest, heat index temperatures climbed to 110 degrees. In many cities, community centers and churches advertised as cooling centers for people who did not have air-conditioning to get out of the heat. The United States was baking like an oven and my backyard was in the middle of it.
Certain breeds of chickens are equipped to handle extremely high heat; the Egyptian Fayoumi is one. They’ve been bred to withstand it.
Many others are not. At least not when it gets over 100°.
You might remember me writing about my hen, Coco, in “White As Snow.” She was the one who knew she was filthy and let me bathe and completely clean her. I wrote about how I thought her demeanor changed after her master (me!) took care of her, much like I changed after God got ahold of me.
The heat was sweltering. Placing fresh water in multiple containers throughout the yard, I did what I knew to alleviate stresses for the girls. Quite a few of them were laying that day but when I noticed Coco on the nest, I heard her heaving, breathing so heavily I was alarmed. Checking a little later, there was her distinctive iridescent-gold brown egg in the nest–always one of my favorites to gather.
I counted: 1, 2, 3…6, 7, 8. All girls accounted for as I left late that afternoon. But when I returned, I could only find seven.
Coco was missing.
Finding her body under a grass plant was shocking. She was one of my original five hens. The bottle flies were just beginning to smell death and her body was in the early stages of rigor mortis. This is the first hen I have lost in my backyard chicken adventure. She was a favorite.
My son dug a hole three feet deep in the garden and my husband, who came out and took her body out of my hands as I sobbed, placed her in it. My tender-hearted daughter kept crying, in fact we all were, as we eulogized dear Coco.
“She was a good hen!” “She always let me pick her up!” “She was the best!” “She hogged the blueberries!”
Indeed, the chicken was all of these and more. As I considered her last day, I realized that even as she was dying, her body fighting desperately to cool itself, she placed herself on that nest to do what God created a chicken to do: lay an egg.
In fact, laying that final egg may have been what put her past the point of no return, what pushed her past her limit. But she was born to lay eggs, to be productive, to offer what she had inside of herself. And she did.
Which leads me to wonder.
Will we offer Jesus everything we have to serve Him, all that He placed inside of us, to be productive all the way up to our dying days, even if that is what kills us?
It’s what He did for us–He was most productive for all of humanity the day He died on a cross at Calvary. It was the reason He was born–to do the work that only a sinless, blameless, perfect Messiah could do to save us from eternity in hell.
Coco, a Partridge Cochin chicken, honored her caretaker with everything she all the way until her last day. Can we do any less than a chicken would to serve our King?
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:1 (NIV84)