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MARY ANN CRUM


‘No, Bailey, the nice chicken doesn’t like it when you put her head in your mouth.”

Welcome to my world, as I try to teach a puppy that chickens aren’t chew toys. It’s not going well, even though Bailey is a full-blooded Great Pyrenees, a breed known for protecting farm critters.

Perhaps our puppy missed that memo.

We resorted to this when all our high-tech efforts to keep our chickens safe didn’t work. A few months ago, a raccoon slipped into our “fowl fortress” before the automatic door closed and had himself quite the chicken dinner.

For months we pondered how to keep any future birds safer. Friends who own Great Pyrenees told us told us how wonderful they are with chickens, so we got one.

All I can say is our friends must have selectively forgotten what actually went down in their chicken pens when their dogs were pups.

We don’t think Bailey means to kill her chicken friends — if she did, they’d all surely be dead by now — but she has only one play mode and it isn’t gentle. Thankfully, only one has thus far been played with unto death.

But what we have now are 16 agoraphobic chickens afraid to leave their house. When they do, Bailey is always so very, very glad to see them, but the feeling is definitely not mutual.

Oh, if only we could get Cesar Milan to make a house call. I watched an episode of “The Dog Whisperer” and Cesar got a Labrador retriever to stop attacking chickens in about five minutes. He simply held a chicken in front of the dog, made his magic Cesar sound a few times, and voila! Problem solved. The chicken did lay an egg on Cesar during this little training session, but I guess when one is scared out of one’s wits, stuff happens.

We hope Bailey will eventually learn to do her job and protect the chickens, but for now, the birds are right — she isn’t worthy of their trust.

And ultimately, neither are many of the things we trust to protect us. Money in the bank. Jobs. Relationships. The government. Guns. Alarm systems. Air bags. Popularity. Power.

Some of those things can be blessings, but none can keep us as safe as we long to be because complete safety in this world just isn’t possible, if by “safe” we mean “pain-free.” “In this world you will have tribulation,” Jesus warned (John 16:33).

God does promise comfort, strength, peace and purpose in our trials, but even more importantly, He offers us absolute protection from by far the worst thing that can happen to a human being: spending eternity... forever... and ever... and ever... in hell.

He promises to protect us from that horrific fate if we place our faith in His Son, Jesus.

Yes, I’ve sometimes felt like a “chew toy” when hard things happen. And I’ve railed at God, “You didn’t protect me!”

“But I’ll be with you all the way through this,” He seems to always reply.

I’ve learned that blaming and obsessing over why stuff happens leads only to torment, but focusing on one huge God-promise brings me bone-deep comfort: “... the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).

When the fallenness of this present world batters us, we can choose to take the long view and know that a perfect, pain-free eternal life awaits all who trust and follow Jesus. That’s not “pie in the sky,” it’s our blessed hope and our protection from futility, bitterness and despair.

“I will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” – Psalm 91:2

Mary Ann Crum (maryanncrum.com) lives in Abbeville and is the author of two books, “A Giggle Goes a Long Way” and “Live.Learn.Laugh!” She can be reached at maryanncrum@gmail.com.