A: To sit on her 21 eggs!

True story! We’ve just spent two weeks chicken-sitting for our neighbours. After quite a few previous stints of collecting the eggs and shutting the three dears up at night, we were starting to feel like pros. That was until Dark Chocolate (our name for the biggest one) didn’t come to bed one night. Anxious texts to my neighbour confirmed that – in spite of Google’s advice to search with a ‘flashlight’ and carry the sleeping bird gently to her house – there wasn’t much we could do. So my daughter and I went to sleep and dreamt dreams filled with foxes, murder and feathers.

We solved the mystery the next day, when armed with the long washing line stick, we poked amongst the bushes and trees at the end of the garden. Sure enough, there she was, safe and sound sitting on a nest. Disgruntled, she hopped off and my youngest shouted, ‘There are a thousand eggs!’

Responses to this sneaky hoarding included:
‘She deserves a medal!’
‘That’s a big omlette’ (one I didn’t fancy eating after clearing away 21 boiling hot and possibly three-week-old eggs)
‘What a little madam!’
‘I can’t believe it!’
‘That explains it!’

I have found myself mulling over this extraordinary sight and the utter waste of eggs. Initially, I thought of the proverb ‘don’t hide your light under a bushel’. The proverb comes from William Tyndale’s translation of the New Testament: “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it lighteth all them which are in the house”. Luke 8:16-18.

I know the word bushel doesn’t mean ‘bush’, it means ‘bowl’. But I think it was that word ‘bushel’ (and the message I was sent praising how well she did to lay all those eggs) that triggered the thought of the proverb and made me think about the importance of using our gifts.

The actual Bible passage the proverb makes reference to needs a good amount of pondering.  In Luke 8:10, Jesus points out, through using this image of the light and the lampstand, that the main point of his teaching is to illuminate the truth and not hide it.

Luke 8:16-18 New International Version (NIV)
A Lamp on a Stand
16 “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. 17 For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. 18 Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.”

Reading and rereading this passage makes me realise that it’s not really about gifts.  What do you think it’s about?  There’s an informative study on it here and it’s well worth a read if you’ve noticed that the truth of the bible text can be overshadowed by a proverb derived from it.

You’re probably familiar with several bible passages about gifts.  Read 1 Timothy 4: 14, 2 Timothy 1:16 and Romans 12: 6-8.  The overarching message of these verses is the need to use your gift.  The weird egg experience reminded me of exactly that.

After shoveling the eggs away (several of them breaking in the process) then hosing down the corner to try to minimise the appeal of the hideaway (and deter rats), I was left thinking, ‘what a terrible waste!’ The hen was being selfish, whether she knew it or not, to keep all those eggs from us. The nest was carefully tucked away, and she had been fiercely guarding it with clucks and squawks whenever her sisters got too close.

Yes, her owner naturally felt proud of her for churning out all those eggs. But I couldn’t help thinking of all the spiritual gifts we sneak away and hide – too modest, or fearful, or lazy to use.

I know there are abilities and gifts God has given me that I’d rather keep to myself. There are solutions I think of that I might keep under my hat, especially as I am often in the environment whereby ‘that’s a great idea – go ahead and make it happen’ is the norm! What a waste! And not everyone is selfish like me, some people want to use their gifts and we’re not doing a great job of facilitating this. I heard a gorgeous voice coming from the newcomer at church a while back but she couldn’t be part of the worship group because she couldn’t get a babysitter for worship practice. Could I have been part of the solution to that? Could you?

 

Do you love spotting that spiritual X-Factor? I spotted it the other day when one of the Kids’ Church leaders led the songs and actions in the most joyous, captivating way. I spotted it at our last training day when one of my friends went out of their way to be there for us and sacrificed her time to take her giftings of ‘helper’ and intercessor to the next level.

Could you be part of the process to bring your friend’s gifts out into the open? Do you need to stop hiding yours away and use what God had given you? I don’t want someone poking around in my heart with another spiritual gifting survey and revealing a hoard of treasure that has rusted and rotted away – gifts I knew I had but have been skulking away to sit on, selfishly nurturing for my own enjoyment with no intention of sharing.

So, yes, the chicken was hiding in the bush because she was very broody.  God used that experience to prompt me to take a serious look at whether I’m using my gifts and how I can help other’s fan their gifts into flame.  I love how that experience provided my family with a mystery, an adventure, and a reminder as to why we like to borrow, rather than own, our pets!

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