A few years ago I thought it would be fun to raise chickens, so I ordered three-dozen over the internet.
Within a few days, a small shoebox of day-old chicks arrived at the post office, and for several weeks the children and I were the benevolent caregivers of a noisy brood living in an increasingly noxious cardboard compound in our tiny kitchen. WHAT FUN!
Finally, it was time to move the angsty teenager chickens outside to their permanent home outside. This required clearing the original farm chicken coop of angrily coordinated hornets, snakes, and mountains of fossilized dog feces left behind from the former tenants who used it as a kennel. SUPER FUN!
During this transition, it also became apparent that we had four randy roosters in our midst. This would have been no big deal had I not specifically ordered only females, but there they were, strutting their fabulous tail-feathers: beautiful, cocky, and awful.
During the day the young roosters took it upon themselves to protect the brood while they ranged. This meant they all shrieked a frenetic alarm whenever a large-ish bird circled in the sky overhead, WHICH WAS ALWAYS. It also meant that any hen who didn’t take immediate cover was chased around the yard and assaulted by a fevered rooster pecking her half to death. SO SO MUCH FUN YOU GUYS!
And if that wasn’t enough fun, one mustn’t forget the nights! The nights were especially fun because that’s when the four bantams would crow their ever-living lungs out during the human-REM-sleep-hours preceding the actual crack of dawn. Who even knew you could grow tired of having so much fun?
But isn’t this how it goes? We order up a situation with certain expectations and then discover unwanted roosters in the mix.
We order a devoted spouse, but we definitely didn’t expect the rooster in-laws. Wow! What an unexpectedly ‘fun’ surprise! We order a meaningful vocation, but nope, we weren’t expecting the cocky and competitive co-workers. We weren’t expecting the drama. This is not fun. This is awful.
We order a nice house in a safe neighborhood with good schools for the kids, but we didn’t expect the ‘fun’ neighbors who start drinking at noon and let their kids have iPhones in the 2nd grade. We order a reputable church, a supportive friend group, and pleasant pastures to grow in faith, but we didn’t ask for – and don’t want – the roosters.
But God’s not in the business of giving us what we order up. He’s not beholden to produce for his people what (or who) we think will bring us joy. No, God is in the business of giving us exactly what we need to become more and more like the person we profess to obey and follow through this world.
God gives us who and what we need to become like his beloved son, Jesus. And often this involves a relationship with the unexpected and unwanted roosters in his brood.
So look around. Notice the roosters in your midst and name them. Can you give thanks to God even for them? Can you move towards their ‘rooster-ness’ with affection, humor, compassion, and patience? Can you see them in a new (heavenly) light?
Can you find any good or beauty in them and speak of it to others? Can you perhaps even appreciate the unexpected interruption and disruption they bring to your comforts and best-laid plans?
For God loves his roosters, all of them, of which you and I are one. And so we are called to be patient and generous with each other, bearing with one another’s rooster nature, with all humility and gentleness and genuine love.
For one day our joy will be complete. And guess what!? Heaven will be filled with God’s well-beloved roosters. Can I live today as if God’s kingdom has already come?
Shalom to you and yours today as you attend to the roosters in your midst. They are a heavenly test. Consider it all joy.