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Out of Her Element

Updated on March 24, 2011
Hen hatching special eggs
Hen hatching special eggs
Hen on farm with ducklings
Hen on farm with ducklings
Ducklings entering the water
Ducklings entering the water

Out of Her Element

(Story for boys and girls. Published over 55 years ago.)

Biddy was a really first-class hen, and she knew it. The farmer knew it, too, and was never tired of singing her praises to anybody who would listen. The chickens all knew it, for some of them had been hatched and brought up by her, so that they could testify that she was a very good mother. Nobody was surprised, therefore, when she was chosen to sit on some special eggs which the farmer wanted hatched out. Large eggs they were, and there were eight of them. Biddy felt rather important as she took charge of the nest where the farmer had placed the eggs, and she settled down to keep them warm.

Now, if hens could count (which, of course, they cannot), Biddy would have known that these eggs were taking a week longer than usual to hatch. Perhaps the time seemed long to her – we do not know – but she stuck to her job and in the end she shad her reward when the shells began to be broken open and fluffy yellow chicks stepped out. They were large chicks, and very clumsy ones too, but she clucked away, calling them to eat the food given by the farmer’s wife, and generally watching over them and fussing them as hens always do.

The days passed, and the chicks were growing fast, when one day she decided to take them for a walk round the farm. As it happened, they came near to the farm pond. Hens do not like water, so Biddy decided not to go any nearer, and when she saw one of her little family straying towards the pond she called to him to come back at once. But he would not listen! And, what was worse, the other seven decided to follow him. Biddy hurried down to the water’s edge, shrieking with rage and fear, only to see the chicks falling into the water. They would be drowned, all of them, drowned in the pond, and then what would the farmer say?

She called and cackled so loudly that he came running out of the house to see what was the matter. What did he see? Eight happy little ducklings swimming safely in the water, while the poor frantic hen rushed to and fro, longing to follow them but knowing that she could not do so. Poor Biddy! She had hatched out duck’s eggs; her chicks were not really chicks at all, but ducklings; and now, without meaning to be unkind, they were showing her that she could not share in the life which they were going to live. She could walk on dry ground. She could even fly a little way up into the air. The water, however, was different; it was no place for her. Water was not her element.

Ducks are born to swim. Their feet are made for it; their feathers are specially oiled to keep out the water; they can even keep their heads under water while they search for food. They belong to the water. It is their home. If Biddy had been born a duck she would have been able to understand, and would have been able to lead the ducklings in their swimming, but she had not been so born and never could be.

Biddy was much older than the ducklings. She was wiser and stronger than they. Yet she could not enter where they went, or live where they lived. She could not even understand such a life. She belonged to the kingdom of land and air, but not to the kingdom of water.

All men and women belong to the kingdom of earth, but none of us by nature belongs to the kingdom of Heaven. Only those who have received new life from the Lord Jesus can enter that kingdom. That is why so many people who are older than we, yes, and wiser and stronger too, cannot understand what it means to be a Christian. “Except a man be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3. The hen could not enter the kingdom of water, for she had not been born a duck; the ducklings, though, had been born into that kingdom, so there was no fear of their drowning, even though they were quite little, for they were in their element.

The great question for us, then, is whether we belong to the kingdom of God. It is not a matter of trying to make ourselves better or copying what other people say or do. It is a question of starting all over again by becoming children of God, and we do this by receiving the Lord Jesus into our hearts. When He comes in, then we are ‘born anew’ and begin to belong to the new kingdom, the kingdom of Heaven. ‘But as many as received Him, to them gave He the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on His name.’ John 1:12.

Written by Harry Foster (Taken from the magazine ‘A Witness and a Testimony’, 1956).

* * * * * * *

(Note:Though this is ostensibly for children, it contains a deep spiritual truth which we Christian adults ought to know. If we are not 'born anew' or 'born from above' - what we call being 'born again' - and there is no experience of a new life, a new heart, and a longing for Christ - then something is seriously wrong with our so-called 'born-again experience'. Note: saving grace is also transforming grace. Being 'born anew', you've come out of Adam into Christ; you've come out of this world and into the things of heaven. Yes, 'born anew' means being 'born from heaven'. It is not the mental acceptance of some evangelical formula. Pratonix)


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    • Answer3 profile image


      7 years ago from Arkansas

      I so enjoyed the story. Very true, I guess a second part of this story to relate to todays church go-ers, would be a chicken trying to put on a life jacket or rent a boat, so they could be a chicken (christian) yet enjoy the water (sin) also.

      Keep up the good work, will watch for your next hub!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      So true, RO… not some evangelical formula, not even knowing Christian doctrines and creeds -- head knowledge by itself will not do, even the Bible says that even demons "believe and tremble," but they are not Christians. They are still enemies of God and under His judgment (James 2:19). Many people may know the truth. They may "believe." They may go to church... but if we have not obeyed the truth and surrendered our lives to Christ, we do not belong to the Kingdom of God. This is how we know we are born again -- whenever hearts are awakened to God’s life and whenever transformation is happening… TQ and blessings.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      7 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Mr. P.

      Thanks for the story. Know I'm praying for you aw well.


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