There are times in life when we know that we are following the lead of the Shepherd and we experience life as God intended for us to live. Then there are other times when a cow ends up in the swimming pool.
It was a cold February day. We had a round bale on the back of the truck as we approached the gate. I jumped out to open the gate. The thought came through my mind, “I should probably close the gate behind us.” I can’t remember why, but apparently I felt like we were in a hurry. So I left it open and we drove in to unroll the bale. We were about 100 yards into the field when all of the sudden, the cows saw the opening and flooded towards it.
Pause. Here’s what frustrated me. We were about to unroll a beautiful 5’x6’ bale of high quality hay for them. In my opinion, it couldn’t get any better than what we were offering. Secondly, there was just a bare field on the other side of that opening that they are now sprinting towards. It’s been grazed off already. There’s nothing there. Why are they running by us?
Ok, so 75 cows are through the gate and into the open field and running wild. They are jumping and, I don’t know if cows skip, but I swear they were as close as a 1200 pound animal can get. They were tasting freedom and living it up.
It’s at this point that I remember that the gas company had been laying new pipe in the field and had cut out about 15 feet of pipe fence behind the house. Want to guess where they headed straight towards? These bovine saw their ticket to freedom and made a straight line towards the gap in the fence.
My buddy took off towards them and I swung around the other side of the house to close a gate leading toward the road and open the one headed to the arena. His wife comes out of the house to help at this point. We had the exits blocked as the cows came around the house - full steam ahead. I don’t know how, but every one of them filed right into that arena. I shut the gate behind them and then all I could do was laugh.
Suddenly, the laughing stopped. From the corner of the house comes this, “Dude, we’ve got a cow in the swimming pool!” What?! I thought he was messing with me. The look on his face told otherwise. We sprinted around the house and came to the pool with a black cover on top (which supposedly can hold an elephant according to the commercial...). We started to undo the straps and pull back the tarp (which now had a cow-sized rip in the middle of it), and sure enough, there she was.
The look on her face is brazened in my mind. If cows could talk, she was saying, “I was never meant to be here. Please get me out of the pool.” She was right. Cows do not belong in swimming pools. Of all the books I’ve read and conversations I’ve had with cattlemen, the topic of how to get a cow out of a swimming pool never came up.
Well, to make a short story longer, we tried everything short of jumping in and giving her a boost. Finally she got her front hooves up on the shallow end and launched out of that pool.
An experience like this, when you are in the moment, is hard to put words to. Aside from, “What just happened?”and "Maybe I should have shut the gate," all you can do is laugh and shake your head. One of them did say, “I’ll bet you can find some way to preach about this someday!”
I can relate to the cows. God has been incredibly gracious to me in my life. He has blessed me in ways and on days when I have done nothing to deserve it. He is my Provider and Protector. Scripture talks about God as Shepherd so often, and I am so dependent on His leadership in my life. I believe that He has a desire for my life - that I would live life to the fullest (John 10:10). His will for my life is that it would be lived loving Him and loving others. Everything I can ever want flows out of these two movements of my heart.
Yet Satan has a will for my life too. His desire is that God’s will be flipped upside-down. He shows up in my life to steal, kill and destroy. He’s skilled at it too. Most often, he accomplished this by simply leaving a gate open.
What looks like freedom, most often ends up in destruction, heartache, and disappointment when we seek to live outside of God’s will. Walking through the gate may look like an inappropriate relationship, a click of a mouse or link, (insert whatever sin you have a propensity towards here). And there are always consequences, right?
What I want to focus on is God’s grace and mercy. Even when you and I fail, He is there. Whatever mistakes you have made, or times that you have run in the opposite direction of God, I want you to know that He loves you and longs for a relationship with you. There have been times in my life where I can relate to the cow in the swimming pool. How did I ever end up here? God has lifted me up out of some really challenging places in my life, and I know He has done and will do the same for you.
I want to encourage you today. You may have something in your life that you feel tension towards. Maybe it is sin in your life. It could be a decision that you need to make and you are trying to discern whether God is leading you towards it, or you are running past him back through the opening in the gate.
My prayer for you is that you would spend time today and prayerfully discern what His will is. I tend to ask this question, “God, if you had your way with ________________, what would that look like?” When the answer is the narrow path, or one that will bring great challenge, I trust that He will give us everything we need for the journey. God is faithful. When we seek to live for Him and to live life according to His will, the blessings He gives of peace, courage, joy and so much more are overwhelming. I pray that whatever you are going through, that this would be part of your story as well.
See, I told you it would preach.