Running Scared: Insights from a Chicken & The Faith of Jonathan
Why did the chicken cross the road? This morning I was given an answer to this question: To get away from the crazy lady trying to snap a picture with her iPhone.
If you’ve visited Bella Verita before, you might be aware I live in what I affectionately call “the woods.” I’ve named my driveway (an understandably odd thing to do) “The Road Less Travelled,” which isn’t entirely accurate. Anytime we leave our house or come home, we travel the well-worn gravel driveway. Yet something about the name conjures up images of a far away, distant place and given the length of our driveway, it seems fitting.
Living in the woods, we’ve realized over the years we’re not alone. We’re surrounded by wildlife – deer, chipmunks, squirrels, raccoons, possums, woodchucks, field mice, frogs, turtles, the occasional (thankfully) coyote, hawks and all kinds of birds, even wild turkeys. I’m no stranger to opening my back door only to find some animal peering back at me. I’m not usually taken by surprise, until this morning.
Driving down our long gravel road, something was bobbing around, a bit flustered in the brush on the side of the road. I slowed down, in an effort to respect the wildlife. At first glance, I thought it was a wild turkey. Then I got a closer look and heard the faint sound of clucking. This was no turkey. It was a bona fide chicken.
Never in the nine years we’ve lived in “the woods” have I come across a wandering chicken. I’d recently read in a Country Living article that chickens are somewhat friendly creatures. Armed with this knowledge, I parked my car and walked in the direction of my feathery friend to get a closer look.
At the realization I was approaching, the poor bird immediately became panic-stricken and began clucking loudly. She darted furiously, bobbing side to side down the road, before crossing the street, to get as far away from me and my pint-sized camera as possible. Back to the car I went, somewhat sad to have frightened the hen. I drove a few feet down the road and parked again, hoping to catch another glimpse unnoticed and maybe even a picture.
The chicken had sought refuge under a grove of pines and I could hear her nervous clucking. As the clucking subsided, she peeked out and seeing me, once again, headed in the opposite direction, as fast as her spiny legs could carry her. With no hope of catching her on film, I gave up, picture-less and retreated to my car. I drove away leaving the terrified bird seeking solace in the shade of the pines, hoping I’d not driven her into a molting frenzy.
Jonathan & His Armor Bearer
Later in the day, I was reading 1 Samuel 14. King Saul and six hundred Israelite soldiers were encamped on the outskirts of Gibeah, at war with the Philistine army. While Saul was apparently staying “under a pomegranate tree,” his son, Jonathan, decided to get a closer look at the enemy encamped nearby. To do so, he needed to climb up to their outpost, which was perched up on cliffs above the Israelite camp. Jonathan is accompanied only by his young armor bearer, to whom he says, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows. Perhaps the Lord will act on our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or few.” His armor bearer responds without hesitation, “Do all that you have in mind. Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”
Jonathan climbs up to the camp, with his armor bearer right behind him. Spotting them, “the Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer followed and killed behind him.” In this one attack, the two men overcame twenty. Then a panic sent by God struck the whole Philistine camp, so fierce that the ground shook. Realizing something was up, Saul roused his men to battle. “They found the Philistines in total confusion, striking each other with their swords.” Many of them ran away with the Israelites in hot pursuit. 1 Samuel 14:23 says, “The Lord rescued Israel that day, and the battle moved on beyond Beth Aven.”
Insights from a Chicken Encounter
I’m moved by the bravery and courage of both Jonathan and his young armor bearer. Jonathan’s actions were based on the solid faith he had in his God. He knew if the Lord was for them, no one could act against them, regardless of the odds. The Philistine soldiers he surprised “fell” before him. Not because of who Jonathan was, but because God was with him. God already had a plan in this battle on a cliff. He gave Jonathan the victory.
In discussing how the armor bearer was committed to Jonathan’s authority, Beth Moore in her study, David: Seeking a Heart Like His, makes the point that the armor bearer did not get to choose the battle. His master did. The young man trusted him and followed closely behind. Jonathan went before him to take the blows of the enemy. Moore states, as followers of Christ, we don’t get to choose our battles. But we can be confident that if God calls us into a personal battle, He is leading the way and the enemy is powerless before Him. In Him, we can have victory.
Like my friend, the rusty hen, I sometimes find myself fighting the urge to run the other way when faced with the looming giants in my life. Battles not of our own choosing can send us running haywire down the road like scared chickens. Jonathan and his faithful armor bearer inspire us to stand strong in the faith, in the midst of our trials. After all, if the Lord is for us who can be against us.
Photo courtesy of PhotoXpress