“Dad”, Hyrum, my 7 year old said, “Jesus is like a chicken.”
I was a little shocked by the comment. We’re not in the habit around here of making jokes about the Savior. Nor do we normally compare Him to things like stinky farm animals. Just something, well, not sacred about it.
My first thought that he was making a joke and a reprimand instantly jumped into my mind. But then I looked closer at his eyes. He was serious.
Still, I wanted to make sure I had heard him right… “What was that?”
“Dad, Jesus is like a chicken.”
“Oh, really. How’s that?”
“Well, not like a rooster dad, more like a mother chicken.”
Now he really had me. Where was this all going? What crazy idea was running through this 7-year-old mind?
Putting my arm around him, I said, “Ok, what do you mean, son?”
Without flinching, and looking rather serious and grave, and keeping his eyes locked with mine, he said…
“Well, today I read a story about a mother chicken. When there is danger, she gathers all of her little chickens in under her wings to protect them. I even read about a chicken that was in a forest fire and the mother got burned and died, but the baby chickens were all saved under her wings. A fireman saw that burned mother and thought she was dead, but then he saw something move and realized that those cute little chickens were all still alive so he helped them get out.”
It was said all in one breath, but not rushed, and with total sincerity… just like a 7-year-old would.
I was shocked – stunned really. It was a little boy speaking to me, but the words were deep and profound.
“Ok”, I said slowly, “how is that like Jesus?”
“Dad, when there is sin or danger nearby, Jesus wants to reach out to us and help protect us. He even loved us so much that he protected us by dying, just like that mother chicken. He really loves us, doesn’t He dad?”
Now, I was fighting tears from springing into my eyes. My chest was feeling tight and my stomach was dancing around with emotion.
Reaching out, I took this sweet boy into my arms. “Yes, son, he really, really does love us. And I love you.” “I love you, too.” And he was off, as if nothing had happened. And I was left to reflect on the power of the Savior and His example for me as a parent.
Wherever my son picked up that striking analogy, I don’t know. But it left me wondering, “Does Hyrum and the rest of my children know that I love them that much, too?”
As a parent – especially as a dad – do they feel my love? Does it resonate with their soul? Do they wake up in the morning, firm and solid in the undying love I have for them? And when they go to bed, does their head rest softly on their pillows, comforted by the peace of my love surrounding them?
And if they can – or more especially, if they can’t – how can I more strongly transmit my deep love to them?
The answer came to me in the middle of the Arizona high desert while attending the burial services of my wife’s 97-year-old grandmother… a secret I’ll share with you next time…