I remember a story my father used to tell to illustrate a life of purpose.
A man bought two chickens, fed them and took care of them. His goal was that by Christmas that year, they would be grown enough and would be slaughtered as Christmas chicken. Every day he fed them, he was picturing Christmas day. Finally the day came, and he went to catch them to be slaughtered. One of the chickens didn’t want to be caught, so it ran across the road and was accidentally knocked off by a car. The second chicken stayed, was caught, slaughtered and served as a wonderful meal for the family.
Both chickens died. But one was useful in death while the other was useless. One died on purpose and the other died a waste.
Here is the point of the story: we will all die someday. Nobody can escape it. It’s not a matter of if, but of when. Everything that was given life is destined to one day die, our lives on earth inclusive.
Today, I have 3 chicken cages in my house. Two are for layers (birds I keep for eggs) and one is for broilers (birds I keep to be eaten). The chickens are not plenty, never more than 15 at a time, but they are very important to me. The broilers are timed – from when I buy them I estimate when they will be ready for eating, and once they are ready, we don’t waste time; they quickly make their way to the pot (apologies to all the vegetarians). You see those layers? Their final destination is also to be eaten, but just not yet. You know why? They are serving another purpose in the interim – providing eggs. Last last, they will also die – hopefully, honorably. But as long as they keep providing eggs, I will keep supplying all their needs and caring for them.
What’s an honorable death for a chicken? A death where it ends up on the plate, making the owner smile. Are there some who die non-honorably? Of course. A couple of times I’ve lost some chickens to disease or something else and I feel very sad. All the chickens end up dying, but some put a smile on my face when they die, others make me sad.
You see this our lives? None of us can keep it forever. With every day that passes, we are passing away. The question is, “are you going to die honorably or will your death give your owner joy?” It’s all a question of how you die. This is not a very nice post to read I guess – too many mentions of death in it, but every once in a while, it is necessary to remind ourselves that this is an inevitable end. Actually, it was in the picture from the day you were born.
I know I will die, but two things should pre-occupy me now:
- While I am still alive, am I serving the purpose of my living? The day my layer chickens stop laying eggs, they stop being relevant. Their end has come. What does my maker and master think of me and my relevance? Do I deserve another day, or am I just a waste of his resources and time?
- When the time comes for me to die, will I bow out honorably or will I struggle to cling to what is now worthless? Jesus was not killed, He took a bow out of life. On the cross, He said “it is finished” – implying that the purpose for which He came had been accomplished and there was no longer need to hang around here. “…and with that, he bowed and gave up His spirit” John 19:30.
I want to be so relevant while I am here that it is in my owner’s interest to keep me alive. And when my purpose here is done, I want to be able to take an honorable bow and say “it is finished”.
Friends, there is no better way to live, and no more honorable way to die than living and dying on purpose. Don’t be like the foolish chicken.