I saw an advertisement in a large city newspaper that outlined all the summer activities that a certain city was providing for the school-age children.
Times have changed. When children live in metropolitan areas, opportunities for play and activities during the summer are scheduled so busy and working parents can have options for childcare in the summer months.
The times of my growing up years were different. Because we always visited relatives in the summer, we had activities just built in because those activities were accessible from home.
Such were the days spent in summertime with our cousins who lived on a farm near a quaint little town in eastern Oklahoma. My sister Susie and I always looked forward to visiting there because a stay on their picturesque farm was really an adventure for us.
Swimming in the pond connected to a winding creek was something we relished. The pond was about a quarter of a mile from the house and was surrounded by trees, grass and native flowers. We spent many days just playing and splashing away and sitting on old inner tubes from huge tractor tires.
But one of the best times I remember with the five of us involved a paint job. An old chicken house was on the farm. Since our last visit, our uncle had repaired it and now it needed painting.
We all thought that sounded fun so with pails and white paint, we five girls set out to paint the chicken coop. We soon realized that with the result of the white paint, aged boards soon took on a new and fresh look.
After two days, we finished and all of us were so proud. The old chicken coop looked amazingly different. On the outside, the once old-looking chicken structure looked brand new, clean and impressive.
But the inside was a different story. The next day we gathered the eggs. Even though the old house looked new on the outside, we soon realized it was the same on the inside. Still we had to watch where we stepped in the old chicken coop. Still we had to be wary of and on guard for bull snakes that sometimes crawled around the chicken nests and robbed the eggs. Still we had to be on the alert that the old hens that sat on the eggs would not sharply peck our hands when we tried to flutter them away to gather the eggs. Still there were flies in the old chicken shack, and it was still dim and stinky.
No matter how the outside looked, the inside was the same old chicken coop. Any spiritual connection?
Sometimes we may think we can fool God because on the outside, we might be able to fool people. We may dress in our self-righteous robes and look exalted and in our sanctimony, appearing clean and spotless on the outside. We may play the game of looking and acting great and consequently fool everyone around us.
Yet, only God knows what is in the heart. A whitewashed job on the outside by cleaning up our act just does not impress God at all. What that old chicken house needed was a thorough cleaning inside to match the outside. That’s what God does to a person when He comes into her life. He cleans from the inside out and gives each of His children a new nature.
I suppose that old chicken coop would not have been the same if it had been spotless and clean on the inside. But what difference did it make? They were just chickens, what did they know?
Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at: