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The Little Red Hen

Have you ever heard of the Little Red Hen, the fluffy and efficient little momma with a list of things to get done? Well, I can relate to her on many levels. As I recall, she had a nest full of little beaks to feed and woke one day to find that there was no food. Did she wait around for the farmer? No. She got after it and started making the food herself. She gathered the wheat, threshed it, ground the grain, mixed up some batter, and baked the best bread her kiddos had ever tasted, and she did it all by herself. The illustrations in this Little Golden Book insinuate that the chicks tried their best to help, but we all know that the efforts of tiny chicks don’t always add a lot.

All throughout the process, the Little Red Hen gave other animals an opportunity to help her and share in the reward of fresh-baked bread for breakfast. I believe she asked a cat, a cow, a pig, and a dog for some help and all refused, giving excuses about being too busy to help. The rooster is never mentioned in the story, and I can only assume that he was out of town on business or would have been right by her side every step of the way. J In the end, the Little Red Hen pulls a large, warm loaf of wheat bread from her little brick oven without scorching a single feather or breaking much of a sweat. As she and her little chicks sit down to enjoy the fruits of their labor, the cat, cow, pig, and dog come sniffing around looking for a handout. The Little Red Hen turns them away, and she has every right to do so. They didn’t help; they shouldn’t share in the reward. Still, they get frustrated and huff away, selfish creatures.

And yet, I’m ashamed to say that I can relate to them, too. The Bible talks a lot about the fields that are ready for harvest and fishing for men, tasks that followers of Christ are called, or commanded, to take part in, and yet, time after time, I find myself giving weak excuses for sitting an opportunity out. It’s not that I don’t think this collection effort or that food or clothing drive or that mission trip are worth the effort or that I don’t think that they will be fruitful undertakings, it’s just that I’m lazy sometimes, a selfish creature. I’d rather sit around and think and talk about what God is doing in the world than take part in it because that would interrupt my routine. I might scorch a feather or break a sweat. I make myself feel better by reminding myself of the endless opportunities that lay ahead, things that I will take part in if the conditions are just right at the time they roll around.

The trouble with this kind of thinking is that loaf after loaf of bread is being baked by the Father and his kiddos, and I am missing out. When I don’t pitch in, when I make excuses, when I wait for someone else to fill my spot so that I can sit back, watch, and evaluate their efforts from a distance, I rob myself of the opportunity to celebrate with my brothers and sisters in the end. Sure, I can clap for those who helped, feel pride in what my spiritual family has accomplished, and tell others what the Father is up to with enthusiasm, but I don’t really get to revel in the harvest like those who were available and obedient when the work was being done. I don’t get the chance to taste and see that the Lord is good, and that’s only fair.

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