I am so mad.
It is almost 3:30 in the morning, and I can’t sleep. My mind is whirring, my blood is pounding, and I am mad, mad, mad!
About an hour ago, I was awakened by a terrified squawking from one of our chickens. As soon as the sound registered in my sleep-drugged brain, I slipped on my shoes, grabbed a flashlight and ran out to the barn, calling for our dog, Rosie, the whole way. Sure enough, there was a raccoon with one of our Black Australorps.
I yelled at it while it just stared at me, dying hen at its feet. Ugh! We were separated by two rows of fencing, and I had nothing with which to do battle. (Though I confess that I fought the urge to hurl Dave’s new-from-Christmas heavy-duty Maglite at the thieving varmint!) I yelled at the raccoon again, and it slowly sauntered off…choosing to hide under the coop.
Great. The enemy is now camping out under the very foundation of its prey.
Just as I suspected, the chickens had not been properly tucked in last night. Despite the fact that our neighbors just lost two young birds…and it’s most assuredly peak raccoon season…and reminders had been given, we had left the henhouse wide open.
With one last look at my now-dead hen, I shut the flap door on the coop. On a hunch, I checked the garage on my way back to the house. Sure enough, Rosie was still cozily curled up in her favorite spot. She had completely ignored my calls for help. She pulled back her ears and wagged her tail guiltily when I found her, and she refused to make eye contact when I quietly scolded her.
Dave asked if I was all right as I crawled back into bed, and I briefly gave him the synopsis. He groggily commiserated with me, rolled over and was soon snoring.
But I couldn’t go back to sleep. I was just plain mad…and I was mostly mad at the raccoon! It was out there right now enjoying its middle-of-the-night meal! As the wheels in my heard turned the situation over, I wondered at my position. Why was I so angry at a raccoon?
We had left the door wide open.
No matter what excuses are made, we were ultimately the ones to blame. The death of that hen is our fault, not the raccoon’s. If we’d done what we needed to do to protect our flock, that Black Australorp and I would be both fast asleep right now.
There’s a proverb that speaks to this situation: Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control. (Proverbs 25:28)
We lacked the foresight, the discipline, the self-control to secure our property last night, and the result was death. And, beyond that, the raccoons will be back. Once they know that a meal can be had, they will diligently return in greater numbers until the flock is completely wiped out…or until we stop them. And, to be honest, the most effective method is not just shutting the flap before we go to bed. The predators will increase in boldness, watching for opportunities at dusk and dawn when the chickens have been released. We must trap and kill the raccoons to stop the problem. More death will result.
I wish I could say that my lack of self-control has only wreaked havoc in the henhouse. Unfortunately, that is not the case. When we neglect to nurture self-control, our lives are opened up to all kinds of mayhem. If you’re like me, you often respond in anger toward the situation before you face the truth that your own action (or inaction) have put you in this position. Its price takes an especially high toll when the consequences are paid by the people we love. If you think about it, virtually every broken relationship stems from someone’s lack of self-control. Addiction. Verbal assault. Betrayal. Disrespect.
We–and our entire families–are made vulnerable when we fail to practice the basic tenets of self-discipline. That’s a hard truth, isn’t it?
It’s also hard to admit that, once we’ve opened the door just once, the opposition digs in its claws and becomes stronger. Sin grows, folks. Whether we’re talking about abusing a substance, watching trash, speaking harshly, spreading a rumor or overeating, sin grows. The more room we give it in our lives, the more room it takes, eventually claiming space in the lives of the people we love. Maybe we knew we should shut the door, we wanted to shut the door, we really did mean to shut the door…but we left it wide open.
Dear friends, what door are you leaving wide open in your life right now? What price are you asking your loved ones to pay? What guilty pleasure is no longer worth the cost? The door can still be shut. The predator can still be stopped. The prey can still be protected. Stop making excuses. Stop justifying sin. Sleep in the peace you’ve been offered. Resolve to shut that door!
Heavenly Father, You know what doors we need to close, and You freely offer us Your strength to close them. Please help us choose what is right over what seems easy. One step at a time. Thank You for the fruit of Your Spirit and for the healing You bring.