God works many miracles. You don’t have to be religious to know this is true. There is proof of it peeping in a box in my bedroom, along with one other egg I successfully hatched, and a dozen babies I ordered from a hatchery to keep those two company.
It all started when I sustained a devastating and sudden loss to my flock. My ten year old son bought some chicks at the local feed store this past spring and I quickly favored the two barred rocks, we named Nugget and Noodle the Cackleberry Twins, and Terri, one of two black Australorps who were among these feed store acquisitions. They were among the first chickens we’d owned in over ten years and in that time frame, I came to realize how much I used to love chickens and could not imagine why I ever stopped having them. Nugget and Terri both passed away at the same time after a predator attack. Too bad some inconsiderate dog owners out there allowed this to happen. Later, a dog got Noodle. It was very likely the same dog I had seen running loose in the neighborhood and run off earlier in the week.
As Nugget was dying, she had a spasm and I thought she was a goner then. But then this spasm was merely her doing what comes naturally to any chicken who has achieved pullethood: she laid an egg in my lap. I looked at it as if it were the most precious gift in the world. Even though her body was weak and damaged beyond repair and help of any vet and any care I could give to her, she managed to squeeze out this precious, special egg. I kept stroking her, and Terri both, and let them both know how much I loved them and that I wished I had healing powers just like Jesus’s and that it wasn’t right that she had to have this because it was never meant for her. I buried her under my kitchen window. Hours later, I buried Terri. I didn’t get a chance to bury Noodle after her attack. She seemed to just disappear and left only a few feathers behind.
Something inside of me decided to try to hatch Nugget’s special egg. I consulted friends I’d made in my various chicken groups as to advice on artificial incubation as opposed to natural. I wanted to know how to make a hen go broody, and what kinds of incubators were best. The only one in my budget unfortunately was an $18 tabletop model that worked on aluminum foil, and a small seven watt bulb. Many of my chicken owning friends told me that even if I followed instructions to the letter, the temperatures were never consistent in them, and even if I did not have it, Nugget’s precious egg might be ruined anyway. But I was compelled and driven to try. I don’t know why but it was a newly found faith and belief in God that did it for me. I had always known that God answered prayers, but often didn’t answer them in ways we might want or expect. So I prayed. But I still had to do my part. The rest was up to God. For my part, I diligently monitored the thermometer and made sure it stayed as close to 100 degrees as possible. I adjusted pieces of aluminum foil to make it go up or down for three weeks. I turned the eggs several times a day by hand, and risked losing precious heat from them every time I opened it. To my horror, the incubator got too hot and the thermometer shot up to 105 degrees on one day, and the next, the temp dropped to about 85 degrees. Conventional wisdom will tell you that both of these extremes will kill the delicate embryo inside. But I hoped and prayed for the best. It was faith that prevented me from giving up hope and throwing the eggs away because there was still that chance that a chick might hatch. The odds were definitely stacked against it from the get go.
I had dozens of people telling me they were praying for this egg, and the counterparts I’d placed in the incubator with it. It may sound silly to some folks for praying for an egg to hatch, but to me, it did not seem silly at all, nor did it seem that way to those who prayed for the egg. Many who paid attention to the date I placed this precious gift in the incubator which resembled a miniature 1970’s popcorn popper, and dubbed the might be baby inside “Popcorn”, and marked their calendars for day twenty one. Out of a tragedy and a horrible loss, these folks and I wanted a triumph over it. And we got it.
On the twentieth day of incubation, the day before scheduled, I heard peeping coming from it. I had not bothered to candle or handle the egg in any way except the frequent gentle turning, for fear I would drop it and really mess things up. The egg rolled and peeped. It peeped and rolled. I reported to my chicken group and Facebook friends what was happening. Cheers went up…and then on the 21st day, I noticed holes forming in the egg. I could see a tiny head with light colored feathers throwing its head backwards into the shell and literally sawing a hole into it. I took pictures and posted them, took pictures and posted them, even took a video of the peeping sound to verify that somehow despite the odds, that I’d managed to pull off something wonderful. Before I knew it, Popcorn literally spilled out of the egg with a bit of force and there he was. An almost pure white, half barred rock, half white leghorn chick that lived up to the Popcorn moniker with the yellow highlights that resembled butter. The name stuck. Popcorn was born.
Keep in mind this was not the most ideal incubator. I had received the gift of another, better incubator from a very generous friend about a week away from day twenty one, but I decided against a transfer despite the fact that it probably would have made things a lot easier. I wasn’t about to take any chances for fear the transfer would go wrong. (I will use my friend’s gift a little bit later when my current batch of chicks decides to lay.) In the meantime this tiny incubator worked wonders about four days later when a second healthy chick hatched too…one of Noodle’s final eggs. I felt blessed doubly. But nothing really illustrates God’s work as much as Popcorn’s existence. Of course God puts together the potential chicken many eons before the egg is ever laid. It is when certain conditions are met and come together, that the chick is developed and formed. All births, are miraculous.
This story is about the power of prayer. Now, had people prayed for this egg and I had not done my part: putting water in the incubator for humidity, monitoring the temperature, turning the eggs, and caring for them, it would never have hatched. An egg does not hatch on its own, without a mother hen to care for it, even if it is fertile, when just laying on the counter and abandoned. It takes someone or something, to help take our own responsibility in it, same as a hen or other bird will take their responsibility. God gave them the knowledge by instinct to do it. I am certainly not a hen but I had to take her place in this, and God was more than happy to oblige me with a beautiful healthy chick.
I had always heard that God helps those who help themselves. This may not be agreed upon by many Bible scholars by any stretch of the imagination, but I know God works miracles through others, be they animals, people, or plants. Even unexpected or negative events can be evidence of God’s work. Things sometimes get set into motion and a prayer may be answered, but it gets answered on God’s time, and in His own way. But it has been my own personal experience, that if you do your part, have faith, pray, and ask…you will get it, but you must do what is required to achieve the prayer, because that’s how the prayer is answered. Much like you cannot get optimum enjoyment out of an electrical device without first reading the instruction manual, you cannot sometimes just pray and expect it to happen and leave it at that. You must first and foremost, follow the instructions. It shows sincere desire on your part then God will take care of the rest. I just know that in Popcorn’s case, prayer worked. It absolutely worked. But those people put their faith in God and I had to reinforce their faith. God guided me in the way to do what it took to hatch it, and God trusted me enough to answer mine and everyone else’s prayers when it did. Had I been lazy and lax about it, I would have had a dud egg. An employer will not reward a lazy worker who is only there to ride the clock with a paycheck…but will reward the worker who takes the job he or she was hired to do.
Some out there may argue that God had nothing to do with it and it was all me. I don’t believe this for one second because too many things went wrong, that went against the proper conditions for a healthy chick to hatch, such as the sudden and drastic temperature fluctuations that all other chicken raisers have told me from experience, was not a good thing to have happen. I have absolutely NO doubt that God stepped in at those times and answered the prayers of everyone who showed enough unwavering faith to ask that this egg hatch. Because it did. A part of Nugget is in Popcorn and even though this half barred rock chick may be white on the outside, and not resemble his or her mother in the least, he/she is still a triumph amidst a tragedy. No miracle is too large or too small for God to accomplish, if you just listen and watch the signs, and use the knowledge faith we’re all given to achieve this. So if God can answer the prayer by allowing a little chicken that had the deck stacked against it, just think what He can do on a much grander scale. This is a comforting thought and I hope people come away with a better understanding of this.
One last thing. God doesn’t always answer prayers NOW. In a modern, rushed society, some people tend to forget this. It took nearly a month to see the fruits of humble prayer in Popcorn’s case. Many prayers don’t take as long, but many take longer but it is promised to us that they are all answered. I sincerely and humbly hope that people don’t forget this and they patiently pray then show God that they mean it by not losing faith. If you ask sincerely and listen to God’s instructions on how to make it happen, your prayer will be absolutely answered.