This post is part of the weekly series, “His Encouragement: Thursday Thoughts to Strengthen Your Soul.”
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” – John 3:3, NIV
Waiting for baby chicks to hatch…
I was having lunch with one of my closest friends when she said to me, “My daughter is very excited. Her chickens are about hatch.”
“That sounds exciting!” I said. “Is it for a school project?”
My friend laughed. “No, it’s not for a project. She just likes chickens. She has always been an animal person. She has quails, too.”
“How fun!” I said. “I would love to see that.”
“Well, you’re in luck. My daughter is so excited about her eggs that she is going to broadcast the hatching live on YouTube. I’ll send you the information. They should be hatching any day now.”
Several nights later, Jeff entered the kitchen to find me staring at my laptop’s screen. “It’s really late,” he said. “Aren’t you going to bed soon?”
“I can’t! This chicken is almost hatched!” I pointed to the screen. “Look! You can see the little cracks in the shell!”
Jeff was not impressed. “Tell the chicken you have to preach in the morning and that it’s almost midnight.”
I typed a message to my friend’s daughter. “Tell the chickens to hurry up! I have church in the morning!”
“LOL- You sound like my mom,” she wrote back.
Sadly, I did not get to see the chickens complete their hatching that night. I decided it was more important to get a good night’s sleep before presiding at worship.
When I saw my friend again, she asked me, “What did you think of the hatching?”
I sighed. “I didn’t get to finish watching. I had to get to bed for church in the morning.”
My friend is also a pastor, so she knows the importance of getting a good night’s rest on Saturday. “I didn’t stay up much later than you did,” she said, “But I saw one of the chicks hatch before I went to bed. For that one, it was very quick, but some of the others really struggled. She had to help some of them. It was all finished a little bit after dawn.”
I’m not surprised that many of the chicks were reluctant to come out of their nice warm shells. I imagine that they were happy inside their eggs. Although it was cramped and dark, it was also safe and warm. It must have been scary for them to poke their little heads out into the blinding light of an unknown world.
As humans, we have a lot in common with the baby chicks in those eggs. Until we are born again, we are like a baby chicken trapped inside an egg. It is dark in there, but many of us are comfortable with the darkness; however, some of us sense that there is a bright new world just waiting for us, if we could only break out of our shells. For some of us, being born again is a struggle. It can be hard work to peck away at the shell and push our beaks out toward the light. Sometimes the light enters our darkness one small crack at a time.
For others, the light comes rushing in all at once. For some of us, the shell of our egg immediately pops off and we are greeted with the amazing sight of an entirely new world. We thought we were alive before, but we didn’t realize how small our existence was until we saw the light.
Nicodemus struggled to break out of his shell.
In the Gospel according to John, we are told of a pharisee named Nicodemus who was also struggling to break out of his shell. For Nicodemus, the darkness was both literal and metaphorical. Nicodemus wanted to know more about Jesus, but he was so comfortable in the darkness that he preferred to visit Jesus at nighttime. Like a baby chicken about to hatch, he was reaching toward the light.
Nicodemus is working hard to break out of his shell, but he is struggling. The conversation that he has with Jesus makes his internal even more challenging. Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be “born again (John 3:3).” Nicodemus doesn’t understand how an adult can literally be born a second time, but Jesus explains “no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit (John 3:5).”
This story shows Nicodemus beginning to understand that when Jesus speaks of rebirth, he is speaking metaphorically. He might not be able to grasp it yet, but he is still trying. Sometimes our faith journey is like that.
Take time this Lent to ask yourself, “Have I been born again?” Growing in faith is not a linear process. Sometimes there are stops and starts—some of us chickens really need to work at escaping from that egg! We are blessed to know that Jesus is always there, helping us along the way and guiding us through the darkness.
Receiving the new birth completely changes the way we see the world. It’s the difference between being stuck inside a dark egg or being alive outside in the world. This Lent, we are reminded that if we trust in God, Christ will help us to break out of our shells int to the glorious resurrection of an Easter morning.
This post is part of the series, “His Encouragement: Thursday Thoughts to Strengthen Your Soul.”
Now, it’s your turn! What Scripture verse is inspiring you this week? Let me know in the comments below!
Thursdays are always a really long day of the week for me. As a pastor, Sunday feels like the natural beginning of my week. By the time I get to Thursday, I am tired and drained. That’s why I’m excited to join with a group of blogging friends in order to offer you a weekly devotional which will be posted every Thursday.
Please be sure to check out the other great bloggers involved in the His Encouragement weekly series!
Leslie @ Words of Hope