"Who has let the wild ass go free? Who has loosed the bonds of the swift ass, to which I have given the steppe for its home, the salt land for its dwelling place? It scorns the tumult of the city; it does not hear the shouts of the driver. It ranges the mountains as its pasture..." - Job 39:5-8
As long as humans have been domesticating animals, the descendants of those animals have been escaping back into the wild. There some of them survive, changed by their species’ association with humans, but truly—if newly—wild. Chincoteague ponies, razorback hogs, and pigeons are all good examples. To prove how little Job knows about the world, God busts out another example: "Just who do you think freed the wild donkeys?" God asks. "Who cared for them even after they left their stalls?"
People leave the church all the time. Some think of them as lost; some talk about them as lapsed. But what if what they really are is…feral?
And what if it’s God who made them that way?
What if, after all the time they spent in the church, it was God who left the barn door open, God who told them it was time to leave the fold? What if it was God who provided them the greener pastures toward which they wandered?
While the rest of us were living domesticated lives in the church, what if it was God who sent the feral Christians out? Their DNA had been evolved by baptism, they’d been trained in the ways of grace, they’d been taught to pull the easy yoke, they’d been fettered by bonds of love, they’d been saddle-broken by grace, they’d been fattened up on heavenly feed. If I were God, I’d want them out there interbreeding with the wild population, too.
God, some of us who love you are domesticated. Some of us are feral. Whether we are the one or the other, or a little of each, help us make sure that everyone has a home in your love and in your flock. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is the Pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church, Syracuse, New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.