Counting Chickens Before They Hatch
But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
the offspring of Abraham, my friend;
you whom I took from the ends of the earth,
and called from its farthest corners,
saying to you, “You are my servant,
I have chosen you and not cast you off”;
do not fear, for I am with you,
do not be afraid, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.
It is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all Israelites truly belong to Israel, and not all of Abraham’s children are his true descendants; but “It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as descendants. For this is what the promise said, “About this time I will return and Sarah shall have a son.” Nor is that all; something similar happened to Rebecca when she had conceived children by one husband, our ancestor Isaac. Even before they had been born or had done anything good or bad (so that God’s purpose of election might continue, not by works but by his call) she was told, “The elder shall serve the younger.” As it is written,
“I have loved Jacob,
but I have hated Esau.”
One of my favorite books growing up was called Flap Your Wings, by PD Eastman. Take just a few minutes and listen to this story.
This is a parable of the Kingdom of God. We don’t know what we have until it is fully grown. Not only must we be careful not to count on people as being fellow believers until they start bearing fruit, but we should be careful not to count out anyone too soon either.
There is one major difference between this story and God’s kingdom though. We are not only born once and find ourselves stuck with whatever kind of creature we become. We are invited to be born again, not as the same old person, but as a new creation. It is as if Jesus allows the story to continue, giving the crocodile the choice of repenting back into his humble shell and re-emerging as a bird the next time around – or choosing to stay a crocodile.
Some would argue that the interpretation should be that the birds deceived him, trying to convince him that he was something he was not – and that may be true in this story. However, the moral of that interpretation is that people cannot change and your genetic circumstances, both good and bad, therefore determine your future, and there is no hope for you to do anything about it. You have no choice in who you are.
Jesus gives us the choice to choose who we will be. He does not force us to be anything. The lie is that we have no choice at all. Don’t discount God’s power to give us new life when we are fretting over the fate of our eggs.
Who are you choosing to be today?