When it comes to living this country life, death is something you become all too familiar with, and not just the death of loved ones. The animals that we raise on a homestead quickly become like family, especially when you are forced to fulfil the parental role to a newborn creature whose mother either died during childbirth, lacks the physical strength to tend to the newborn, or simply rejects it altogether. Whatever the reason, a bond forms between human and animal.
There’s many reasons why we keep animals on the homestead, the first of which is to provide food for our families. However, knowing they are destined to give you meat doesn’t negate the love and compassion we share them. After all, they are still living creatures. That got me to thinking; death is a part of life.
Now, I don’t believe that there is a spiritual energy that is absorbed by the earth when a creature dies like some religions say. There is, however, energy that flows from these creatures to us; their death gives us life.
Literally, when we consume of the animals we have raised for slaughter, their meat provides the energy and strength we need to live this life. When that thought crossed my mind, I was immediately reminded of a story most of us learned about in Sunday School, or sitting at our grandparent’s feet as they read us the story from the Bible; the story of the first Passover.
In this time in history, God’s people were enslaved by the Egyptians who refused to let them go. So, God sent a series of curses upon them in an attempt to convince the Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. However, even the worse plagues we no match for the hardness of his heart. So, as a final attempt by God to free His people, He sent the death angel to slay the firstborn of every house. However, He provided a way of escape for the Israelites.
As a sign to the death angel, God told His people to take a lamb into their house and care for it for fourteen days. Then, when the last day came, they were to slay the lamp, cook and eat it, and put it’s blood on both sides and the top of their door. The sacrificial blood showed the death angel who they were and not to bring death to them. So, in essence, the animal provided life to the family inside.
I can’t count how many times I have heard and read that story, usually around Easter time. I’ve often thought what the family felt when they had to slay that lamb which they had cared for during the past two weeks and how the children reacted when told what the lamb’s death was for. In today’s society, we shield our children from thoughts of the end of life; parents hide pets which have died or cease talking about loved ones who have past when children walk in to a room; each parent raises their children how they see best.
What we experience on the homestead, though, is monumental to how we live this life; death is only a part of life. Without death, there can be no life.
Homestead parents, don’t gloss over the questions your child has when it comes to slaughtering day. If an animal dies, comfort your children, but be sure they understand what has happened. And, above all else, don’t forget the one who dies to give us the ultimate life, Jesus Christ. His death paid the price for us all to have the ability to have a new life in Him!