I just finished mulching the raised beds in the vegetable garden this morning. It is very interesting to me that as we work with plants and animals, YHVH softens our hearts to them. YHVH teaches us to be kind to the mother bird in her nest, by not taking her and the eggs at the same time. We are to let our animals rest on Shabbat just like the people. Our gardens and our vineyards are a sign of YHVH’s blessings and should be cherished and cared for. Obviously, our enjoyment and love for living things should only magnify our love for their Designer, and not be directed to the organisms themselves. We are also taught that if an animal causes harm, they must be put to death, such as when an ox gores someone.
Recently, I had a very emotional and very tough thing happen. This spring we bought 100 chicks and 15 ducklings. Even though I never considered myself an animal person, YHVH has taught me to love his creatures. Those birds were like 115 little babies to me. I even played the radio at night to protect them from the raccoon. But when they were about 3 weeks old, our dog got in and in 10 minutes, killed half of them. When I saw what she had done, my heart just about stopped. It looked like a war scene, with dead bodies everywhere. At that moment, I had to make one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to face. The dog had to go back to the shelter. Whiskey had been with us for about 2 years. We had problems with her and the farm animals before, but always made excuses that she would learn and we continued to try to teach her. But YHVH made things very clear for me. Sometimes things, even living things, have to be removed in order to bring Shalom, peace. The pictorial meaning of Shalom is to destroy the one that is causing the chaos. We tend to not think like that anymore. We want to please everyone, make everyone happy, and avoid making waves. But YHVH is trying to show us that sometimes, in order to have peace, we must bring about difficult changes.
I cried all the way to the animal shelter, cried the whole time I was there, and cried all the way back. But YHVH had a teaching for me at that difficult moment. He brought to my mind the story of Abraham and Lot. Lot was Abraham’s own nephew, and surely there was love and affection in that relationship. But YHVH brought strife into the camp to show Abraham the need for change. Once Lot left, YHVH immediately came in and reaffirmed His covenant with Abraham. In order to live in peace and fully in YHVH’s will, we cannot be afraid of the changes He brings to us. Sometimes we have to say goodbye, as I did. Sometimes we are called to teshuvah, true repentance.
The day after I dropped Whiskey off at the shelter, I walked out among our farm animals. There was such a quiet in the air. The goats were calm, not nervous like they had been for almost two years. The chicks were back to pecking and scratching. It was as if our 51 acres had heaved a collective sigh of relief. As much as we loved Whiskey, she just wasn’t a good match for us. Though it was very painful, I am so grateful that YHVH showed me, and that He supported me through it. I’m also grateful that our shelter is 100% committed to finding homes for the animals, and do not put them down. I’m also glad I had enough sense to obey.
Now, as I sit on the steps of our chicken coop and watch the chickens and ducks dig through manure and garden scraps, I praise YHVH for softening my heart to His creation. His living beings bring me joy, and I can trust YHVH, knowing He will lead me on the best path, and help me make the difficult choices.
What have you learned in creation lately?