So there I was, on a heifer ranch in the Snake River Valley near Hagerman, Idaho.
My brother in law, a second generation dairyman, asked me to stand in front of a herd of stampeding cows. No, he wasn’t trying to get rid of me. He was using me as a bovine traffic cop to cull out a single stubborn heifer in order to move her from one pasture to another. We were trying to provide better conditions and care for this stubborn, independent, clueless beast.
Through repeated attempts and various strategies our multiple efforts failed to move her to “greener pastures.” Now what?
One more time, my brother in law moved the herd in my direction (yes it was quite unnerving to have that much beef running straight at me) with the ulterior motive of culling the cow in question. But once again our strategy didn’t work. Time to do something extreme.
My brother-in-law did something his father taught him; something I will never forget. (Now you must realize my brother in law is a pretty big guy. And, this was over 30 years ago before animals had so many “rights”). He used his considerable strength to just pull a weather beaten, I’m going to say 1” by 12” six-foot-long board off the corral fence. As the cow in question came within reach, my frustrated brother in law, in true Babe Ruth fashion, “swung for the fences.” With the flat side of the board he connected with the cow right between the eyes.
It would be an understatement to say I was shocked and surprised. I think the cow was too; her front legs buckled and wobbled. Whereupon my brother-in-law grabbed the now dossal heifer by both ears and simply walked her quite easily to a “greener pasture” where better conditions, feed and yes, rest awaited. And then it hit me: He makes me lie down in green pastures. Makes me?!
I thought, “God how many times have You had to “make me” lie down? How many times have I resisted your instructions to rest in greener pastures? (There is always so much that has to be done; that remains to be done!) I am truly sorry for not resting in you. Please give me the wisdom to follow your directions to places of rest and restoration. Really, God, help me to submit to You so You don’t have to “hit me with a 2x4 to get my attention.”
To the point: How often are you going along with the herd in the direction of exhaustion? Maybe even driven by “the herd” to work harder, work longer? Guilt driven, rather than Spirit driven with the mindset of a martyr, it is so easy for us to push ourselves to do more while enduring “brown, dusty, waste ridden pastures.”
Yet in our exhaustion we still try to convince ourselves that somehow it’s all for Jesus. We desire rest and peace and time with the family, we even preach it to others, yet we also want results, and things we can report to others that will justify our employment.
What will it take for the “Rancher of your soul” to get your attention; to get you to rest? Only God knows for sure. But through the years, sometimes I have seen (and experienced myself) that God uses circumstances like illness, or unemployment, to make us “lie down in green pastures beside quiet waters.”
Personally, I would rather listen to and obey God’s gentle promptings to lie down in green pastures before He has to resort to a different strategy to make me lie down.
So, for you, what will it take? Will you listen to God’s gentle promptings? Here’s how He spoke to and warned His people via the prophet Isaiah: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” Isaiah 30:15b.
Have you heard His gentle whisper or will it take some 1 x 12 of His choosing to “make you lie down?” He’s calling now, how will you answer?