“Don’t Count Your Hens Before They Hitch!”
A Gentle Reminder from Elizabeth Rice Handford

Five-year-old son John came home from kindergarten one day, excited as usual about all the new things he was learning. “You know what I learned today, Mother?

You’re not supposed to count your hens before they hitch!”

I thought, That’s a new slant on Aesop’s not counting your chickens before they hatch. I asked, “So why shouldn’t I count my hens before they hitch?”

“Some girl with a can of milk on her head-why, I don’t know-but she was thinking how she could sell the milk and buy some chickens and she’d sell them and buy a new dress and toss her head at the boys, but thinking about it she forgot about the milk pail on her head, and she tossed her head and spilled the milk and her mother said, ‘Don’t count your hens before they hitch.'”

That’s the essence of Aesop’s fable, and it’s good biblical advice, it seems to me.

We Americans certainly experienced this truth in 2020. Last spring, at the end of a session with my ladies’ Bible class, I casually said, “See you next week.” But I didn’t see them “next week,” nor the next, nor the next. Covid insideously sneaked in amongst us and changed all our reckoning. I may never again see in this life some of those dear women I said goodbye to so casually last spring.

James 5:13-16 says,

Look here, you people who say,
“Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town
and will stay there a year.
We will do business there and make a profit.”
How do you know what will happen tomorrow?
For your life is like the morning fog-
it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.
What you ought to say is,
“If the Lord wants us to,
we will live and do this or that.”
Otherwise you will be boasting about your own plans,
and all such boasting is evil.

Is it right to make thoughtful plans? Of course! Isaiah 17:8 says that “The noble man makes noble plans, and by noble deeds he stands.” But making a noble plan requires listening to God’s voice, seeking His will, and committing our will to His.

Proverbs 16:9 says, “We can make our plans, but God determines our steps.” How very glad I am that is true! Some of the schemes I planned when I was young would have been disastrous if they’d materialized. But God took a hand, and chose a different path for me. My Heavenly Father can be trusted to give us His very loving best when we put our lives in His hands.

So listen up, everybody! Don’t count your hens before they hitch!