PUSHING THE CHICKEN SWITCH
I hereby openly
confess that the first time I heard those two words, “chicken
switch” I visualized a farmer headed for his hen house with a
uniquely shaped switch in his hand for the purpose of carrying out
corporal punishment on disobedient chickens. A short time
thereafter I was given a definition of the term from the
Dictionary of American Idioms. It is a term used to refer to the
emergency eject button of a spacecraft. It was incorporated into
the astronaut training program and carries the meaning, “Don’t
bail out when you have set your hand to the course” or “Don’t push
the panic button”.
I reflect back to
when I was in training to be a pilot. My instructor would
suddenly put the aircraft into an emergency situation or an
unusual attitude and announce, “It’s your airplane!”. If a
“chicken switch” had been available I probably would have pushed
it on several occasions. Astronauts in the space program are on
the cutting edge of space flight. They constantly find themselves
in situations where they have never been before. They are
rigorously trained to make a commitment to go forward with what
they are doing and not to bail out except in the worst-case
It occurred to me
that Jesus also established a directive that once we have made a
commitment to follow Him we are not to push the chicken switch
when things get tougher than we expected. An unknown person
blurted out impulsively, “Lord, I will follow You wherever you
go.” Jesus informed that person that when each evening came
He did not have a home to which He could go for food, shelter, and
rest (Luke 9:57, 58). Jesus was obviously teaching that when we
decide to follow Him we should be prepared to endure hardships.
To another, Jesus
said, “Follow Me.” That person answered, “Lord, let me
first go and bury my father.” Jesus answered, “Let the
dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the
of God.” (Luke 9:59,
60). It seems clear that Jesus was saying that a commitment to
follow Him means that we give the kingdom of
first priority above everything else.
To yet another
Jesus said, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and
looking back, is fit for the
kingdom of God.”
9:62). Jesus is saying that when we make the commitment to follow
Him we also need to make up our minds that we are not going to
push the panic button and bail out no matter what difficulties we
are called to face.
2001, the firemen of New York City were called on to rescue as
many people as they could from the burning towers of the World
They could have pushed the chicken switch and said, “We can’t do
it. No firemen have ever been called on to deal with a fire this
catastrophic!” Instead, they knowingly put on their helmets and
coats and picked up their equipment. In a display of bravery
rarely seen in history many went forward to almost certain death
to save as many as they could from the inferno.
CHARACTERS WHO PUSHED THE CHICKEN SWITCH
Eve pushed the chicken switch when the serpent convinced her she
would miss out on something wonderful if she didn’t disobey God
and eat the forbidden fruit.
CAIN – Cain
pushed the chicken switch when he decided it would be easier to
just murder Abel than come to God on God’s terms.
ABRAHAM – Abraham
pushed the chicken switch when a famine settled on the land God
promised him and he decided that Egypt was his best hope.
JACOB - Jacob
pushed the chicken switch when he accepted the advice of his
mother that the only way he could get the blessing of the
firstborn was to lie to his father Isaac and tell him that he was
MOSES – Moses
pushed the chicken switch when he called forth water from the rock
by striking it with his staff instead of speaking to it as God had
told him to do.
Israel, as a nation, pushed the chicken switch when they decided
they couldn’t possess Canaan because of the giants, high walls,
and rugged land.
SAUL – Saul, the
first king of Israel, pushed the chicken switch when he said, “The
Philistines are coming and Samuel isn’t here, so I’ll just handle
the offering of sacrifice to God myself.”
JUDAS – Judas
pushed the chicken switch when he concluded, “I chose for Jesus in
order to wear a crown. Jesus is saying I’ve got to bear a cross
first. I’ll force Him to use His power to wear a crown and if He
doesn’t He’ll be put to death and I’ll be totally off the hook.”
PETER – Peter
pushed the chicken switch when he gave in to pressure that he had
to convince people he was not a disciple of Jesus by cursing and
denying that he knew Jesus.
JOHN MARK – John
Mark pushed the chicken switch when he determined, “This
missionary business is hard work and dangerous. I’m going home to
DEMAS – Demas
pushed the chicken switch when he began thinking “These Romans are
going to kill Paul for sure and if I hang around they’ll kill me
too, so I’m outta here!”
Every one of us
can probably think of people who made a commitment to follow
Christ but when the going got tough they bailed out. Maybe one of
those people was you.
NEVER PUSHES THE CHICKEN SWITCH
Adam and Eve sinned God made a commitment that the Seed of the
woman would bruise the serpent’s head. (See Genesis 3:15). To
fulfill this commitment:
God had to replace
the murderer, Cain, and his murdered brother, Abel with a third
God had to preserve Noah’s family through the great flood.
God had to give Abraham and Sarah a son when Abraham was 100 years
old and Sarah was 90.
God had to preserve Israel from national infanticide in Egypt.
God had to preserve the royal line of Judah when ruthless enemies
cut the legal heirs to David’s throne down to one son.
God had to unite deity with humanity in the virgin womb of Mary.
God had to allow His Son to suffer for the sins of all humanity.
God had to raise His Son from the dead.
God had to establish a church in which there were people who would
be committed to sharing the gospel with an entire world.
Because God kept
His commitment the Apostle Paul and millions since him can say,”…I
know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep
what I have committed to Him until that day.” 2nd
2002 Thomas E Berry
Scripture quotations from NKJV unless otherwise noted
Copyright © 2008 Truth Helpers Inc.