Of Dogs, Chickens, and the Price of the Gospel

Monday evening I was relaxing with my family and contemplating the upcoming opportunity to check the inside of my eyelids for holes.

Suddenly my eldest daughter shrieked “There’s a dog out there with a chicken in it’s mouth!” or something roughly equivalent. That was particularly disheartening because we are in the midst of raising chickens for the first time ever. I ran outside and brandished the closest conceivable weapon: a shovel which had been leaning against the apple tree. Chasing the dogs away we began to survey the damage. A series of our chickens had been eatencompletely by these beasts and a few more lay strewn about our yard in
various macabre positions. Further detail isn’t necessary.

Suffice it to say that once the Dogs had satisfied their hunger they merely desired to satisfy their outright glee at killing my chickens. Not a live chicken was in sight and I prepped the kids for the end of the chicken raising experiment and sent the youngest inside. Aftercleaning up the mess I got in the car with my wife and prayed. I knew
who’s dogs they were and I knew that I was upset enough to do and say something that could easily build a wall between the young couple that owned the dogs and the gospel of Jesus Christ. God had burdened my heart to be careful with what I said. So I asked for help controlling my words.

The confrontation was … non-confrontational. The young woman was instantly apologetic and blinked but didn’t protest when I told her what it would cost to replace the various plain and fancy breeds and buy food to raise them back to maturity. I returned home gratified that the chickens could be replaced.

To my surprise several frightened birds began to emerge from the cornfields around our house as night began to fall and we one by one coaxed eighteen of them back into their repaired enclosure. The kids were elated at their return – especially when we discovered that all but one or two of the family favorites had survived the event.

That night I thought long and hard about my response scheduled the following morning. I had made my decision. When the sun was up and the day was moving I prayerfully knocked on the door and was greeted this time by the man of the house. We exchanged a few pleasantries and I presented him with an approximated bill from the catalog showing the cost of replacement.

Then I advised him that I had decided to forgive the debt, and I shredded the bill. To his honor he insisted on paying so I expressed again that I was going to pay the bill myself, but I wanted to explain to him how a greater debt was paid.

I loved his words at this point, Well I guess I owe you that much.

I carefully began with a brief gospel explanation. How we had accumulated a debt of wrongdoing against God and yet he lovingly paid the death penalty with his own son’s life so that we could be forgiven if we’ll only accept the offer. I hoped against hope that they might become believers because of this brief encounter. And even though they did not a few dead chickens are a small price to pay for the opportunity to explain the gospel clearly to someone who may not have listened otherwise.