BY: DAVE GARNER
JUNE 16, 2008
When I was a boy my family and I lived on a chicken farm. This chicken farm was the industrial, large quantity type chicken farm. There were seven barns in which we cycled through one hundred thousand chickens, give or take a few, every nine or ten weeks; twenty thousand in the bigger barns and eighteen thousand in the smaller ones. During my teenage years we moved to another farm where we raised laying hens and then finally changing to turkeys when I was in my upper teens. Even as a kid, I learned things about chickens and domestic turkeys which have stayed with me over the years that I can now relate to the human condition.
In order to do justice to my analogy of the condition of a chicken, I must explain a few things about domesticated chicken that most people do not think about, and probably have no reason to. As far as I know there is no such a thing as a wild or feral chicken in the United States, at least not in large quantities anyway. All the chickens that I know about are domesticated and are under the care of someone, for they normally cannot survive by themselves. Their whole life is dependant upon somebody caring for them and protecting them. By themselves the normal chicken usually does not live very long, for they are easy prey for anything that comes along, even their own kind. They spend their day with their heads down, pecking at anything at head level or below, mostly toward the ground, scratching and foraging for food. They are attracted to and will peck at anything that is shiny or anything that sparkles. When one of the chickens gets a spot of some type on its body, and it does not matter where, it draws the attention of the other chickens and they begin to peck at the spot. The more they peck at the spot, the bigger the spot gets and it does not take long before the chicken is pecked to death.
To many times in the past I have caught myself living like a chicken. I don’t really know how or when it happened, I just remember waking up one day and looking around and there I was, caged in and everywhere I looked around me, there was this fence that surrounded me that seemed so high and impenetrable. Now I know that I am not a chicken, but somehow there I was walking around clucking pecking at the ground, looking for food, hoping someone would throw out some kind of morsel in order to satisfy my hunger and some miraculous event would happen that would help me fly out of that chicken coop. I knew that I deserved better and I did not belong in that chicken coop, after all I was a child of the king and I had even flown in the heavens before. I had flown with eagles and soared in the heavens and now here I was existing in a chicken coop.
It was obvious that I was not a chicken and anyone could tell that, just by looking at me. I looked into the mirror and I didn’t think I looked like a chicken, why then was I in this chicken coop. I know I would probably look more like the eagle I really am if people would just have more faith in me and quit looking down at me and see me for what I really am, if my situation would change for the better, if I had more money, if God would do something or if, if, if,….. If they would let me I would really show everyone I could fly. I hated being trapped in the chicken coop. I did not like having to depend on others for my sustenance. I wanted out; I was tired of walking around pecking at the ground. I began to look at my wings. They were definitely made to fly, so why was I here cooped up with these chickens? Everywhere I looked, all I saw were chickens pecking at the ground. Why was I not flying? What was stopping me? All of the chickens seemed to be just living day to day, without purpose, without a vision, living only for the next meal. They were living out their lives just waiting to get big enough so they could be processed out to make room for the next batch.
I did not intentionally set out to become part of the chicken coop family. I wanted out, but I found myself not able to think beyond the limitations of the chicken coop that surrounded me. The chicken coop had closed me in and my problems were getting bigger, the fence was getting higher and my circumstances never seemed to be changing, and there I was, walking around with my head always down struggling to remain afloat, worried about how we were going to pay the bills, buy groceries or even have enough money to buy the gas to go to the store. I deserved better than this. It was everyone else’s fault, after all, I was one of God’s chosen and I was doing the best I could. Negative thoughts began to flood my mind toward others around me, about what they were doing or not doing, and this opened the door for mistrust, division, despair, frustration, doubt and anxiety to take root in my being and consume my thoughts.
All of a sudden I realized that over a period of time I had allowed myself to lose sight of the heavens, to be drawn away from my hope, away from my peace, away from my joy; onto the termites, bugs, flies and insects that serve as food in a chicken coop, that seemed to be flourishing in abundance around me, such as financial problems, health problems, world problems, family problems, other people’s problems, earthquakes, storms, famines, hurricanes, tsunamis, illegal aliens, misguided preachers, loud neighbors, governmental problems, life’s problems, rejection and assumed spiritual problems. There I was, pecking at the ground with the best of them, clucking just like the rest of the world. Do you know that there is some pretty good looking chickens that thrive from living in a chicken barn, or at least as much as the chicken condition will allow them too? I have discovered that there are some very proud roosters who live in the chicken coop who love being a chicken and can strut and crow and make all of the other chickens think that being a chicken is all that life’s about. You can hear them clucking all over going all around the chicken coop telling all of the other chickens about how great a chicken they are and what a joy it is to remain a chicken. Then there are those chickens that do not know how to be anything else other then a chicken, who are content to live out their lives pecking at the ground, feeding off of all the morsels thrown out to them living in the condition of a chicken. They are not even aware that there is a heaven above them; much less that they can experience the freedom found by dwelling in it, so they live out their lives caged up getting prepared to be processed.
The chickens we raised were mostly for food processing. When the chickens get to a certain age or at the right poundage, the processing plant would send out the chicken trucks and catchers to load them onto the trucks to take them to be processed. The chicken catchers only work during the night hours. Under the cover of darkness the chickens cannot see, they set down and usually huddle together and the chicken catchers come in and grab them up by their legs and take them out and load them into coops onto the truck. A good chicken catcher can carry up to twelve chickens at a time, so it does not take them long to clear out a chicken house. It is easy to become blinded by the darkness and all of the terrible things that are taking place in it, if we take our eyes off of Him who is our life. All of us were made to dwell in the heavens, in the light of His glory. There is no real spiritual prosperity living in the chicken condition. Man is destroying himself under the cover of darkness, under the illusion that there is comfort to be found in knowing about all the things that are going on in the world and in cares of the world. But it is a truth that anything that draws my attention away from His exalted position in my life, is a futile endeavor and a distraction, and all it winds up accomplishing is to keep me bound to the chicken condition and prepare me for the processing plant.
I hope this story does not offend anyone, but I must tell you about it in order to render clarity to the rest of my article concerning the chicken condition. I know that it is not normal for most folks to keep this kind of memory, much less to keep it for as long as I have, but over the years I still have this vivid picture of this chicken in my mind that has served to remind me each time I think about it, not to “set down” on a well traveled road as it might get me run over. I was seventeen and we lived in Springtown, Arkansas and I worked at night in a chicken egg hatchery in the town of Decatur, which was about a ten or twelve mile drive from my home. All the chickens that were ready for processing were brought to the chicken plant which was behind the hatchery where I worked, and many of the trucks carrying the chickens had to use the same road I did to get to the processing plant. Often, on my way home I would see three or four chickens that had not been put in the coop all the way, which had fallen to the side of the truck and were setting or walking beside the highway. On this one particular morning I was returning home and the sun was just coming up and it was reflecting off of my drivers side window and mirror to such a degree that I was having difficulty seeing the road ahead of me clearly. Just as I came around a bend in the road, I saw a chicken setting right in the middle of my lane right in front of me, and it was too late to avoid him. He had just enough time to raise up and look at me before I ran over him. After thirty-five years I still have that picture of that chicken raising up and looking at me right in the eye before I ran over him. Bear with me on this, I am going somewhere with this story.
All of its life that chicken was never made aware of the fact that there was life outside the chicken coop. He was raised by man to be used by and for man’s purpose. He was made to be processed and consumed. His whole life was wrapped up in fulfilling someone else’s purpose for him. Just as I was, there are too many birds that are setting in chicken barns that have the wings to fly if they would just recognize that they have the ability to do so. They will never fly though, if they never get out of the chicken mindset and exercise their wings. As long as they continue to live with their head down pecking at the ground, they will remain under the cover of darkness, without hope for themselves or in themselves, just waiting to be processed for someone else’s purpose. The truth is, if we think like a chicken, act like a chicken, walk like a chicken and peck at the ground like a chicken, if we were not a chicken before we started doing so, we have certainly become one now. A closed mindset, a bitter spirit, hard heartedness, unforgiveness, spiritual arrogance, self-righteousness, spiritual blindness, apathy, ignorance, laziness and such like will always keep us in the chicken mindset and bound in the chicken coop. And if we are not careful, we might find ourselves living in the chicken condition waiting for the processors to come and take us away, and even worse, we might find ourselves somehow setting in the middle of the road waiting to be run over by an ignorant teenager who thinks he has the world by the tail, and even worse, one who at that time, hated chickens with a passion. Honestly though, I did not intentionally run over the chicken.
CHICKEN CONDITION [Dave Garner] 6-16-08 1