Recently I was enjoying a beautiful early morning on my small farm in North Florida. The sun had not yet cleared the trees and it was cool in the shadows near the adjacent woods.
Looking at a beautiful green meadow across the fence, I was enthralled by the scene that was unfolding in front of me. Out in the meadow were three momma turkey hens keeping watch over their little ones.
The cute little birds, miniature replicas of their mothers, were busy scurrying about in the knee high grass. They were very young and tiny; I was sure they couldn’t fly yet. They reminded me of the crowd at Grand Central Station in New York during rush hour.
There were a large number of little turkeys in the meadow, about forty, and I wondered how the mothers could keep track of such a big flock. What if a predator approached? How would they protect them? After all, they were out in the open for any animal lurking in the shadows to see.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw one of my barn cats, Blackie, cross another of my fences and go into the woods. I really didn’t think anything of it and went on with my “turkey watching”.
I continued observing the show for several minutes until I heard a very excited turkey gobble coming out of the adjacent woods. It was definitely a papa turkey, a tom, and he was sending an ominous warning. He was angry.
A moment later out of the woods came Blackie with a young turkey in her mouth. The poor thing was flapping its wings madly but to no avail. Blackie had a good grip and was heading toward my fence.
Then, to my surprise, Poppa Tom came crashing out of the woods. He was coming after Blackie with a vengeance. His head was bobbing rhythmically as he was quickly closing the gap.
A very tired Blackie barely reached the fence before Tom. She climbed over it just before he delivered a vicious peck. Tom was stopped by the barbed wire. He glared at Blackie across the fence and continued to raise a gobbler ruckus.
Now I love my barn cats. After all, they do a great job of keeping rodents away from grain in the barn. But I also admired that big male bird and was glad he chased Blackie and got my attention.
Blackie sauntered up to me looking for praise for her work. She expected the same treatment that she usually gets when she catches a mouse and brings me her prize.
But instead of praise I scolded the cat and she dropped the young turkey. She walked away with a dejected look while keeping her eye on the little creature from afar.
I knelt down and looked at my feathered friend. Was it dead or alive? Was it seriously wounded? I just couldn’t tell.
I reached to pick up the little fellow and learned quickly it had been “playing possum”. The spunky little thing cheeped loudly and scooted off through the fence toward Poppa Tom who was still waiting anxiously.
Blackie looked on longingly but wasn’t about to challenge Old Tom. She knew better.
As I watched father and baby bird head back toward their extended
family, I thought about how this little incident reminded me of God and his love.
Is that surprising? How can a turkey story remind you of God?
Well that Tom was father and head of a large flock of turkeys. He had responsibility for keeping watch over them and protecting them in an often hostile environment. If he had to work around the clock, 24/7, that is just what he did.
And this is what God does for us. He loves us and keeps watch over us constantly. We are his children. He gives us the freedom to move about in a dangerous world but he is always there when we need him.
I thought about this a lot on Father’s Day. What a wonderful lesson Tom Turkey had given. He exemplified in his very existence the wonderful love that God has for us.
It was a real joy to witness this real life story so close to Father’s Day. I will always remember its beautiful message and that magnificent Tom Turkey who was His messenger. Thank you, Lord.