Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Lessons from the Farm:Spiritual Insights from Rural Life

LIKE REGGIE:Exceptions to the Rule

Animals have personalities. We’ve had cattle on our farm as gentle at kittens, but others as mean as Al Qaeda operatives. Our place has been home to a snapping turtle with an attitude and an old black snake who's getting grumpier in his advanced years. Currently, we have six Golden Retrievers, who, for the most part, are very friendly and loving; however, there are exceptions to the rule…like Reggie, for instance.

Reggie came to us as an adult. She’s beautiful: deep copper coat, loaded with curls, regal shaped head, and creamy undercoat highlights. The first day we had her she was a little nervous, almost fearful. “Probably, just not accustomed to the new surroundings. She’ll settle down in a few days,” I told myself.

That was two and a half years ago. She is better, but yet, she never allows me closer to her than 10 feet. I’ve tried bribing her with food, cornering her and then calmly petting, scratching behind her ears, and speaking kindly. So far, nothing has managed to alay her fears. I think she was abused by the former owner and fears being hurt again.

Though understandable, her stand-offish behavior makes it tough for me to give her medications, comb her coat, or just generally love on her like I do the others. I told myself that if she wouldn’t allow me to help her, I’d have to give her away or have her put down.

Believe me, neither of those are desirable options. So, I was extremely delighted when I happened on a workable way of caring for her. It came by surprise one day when she voluntarily walked up to my son Benjamin. He patted her on the head and she responded by moving even closer.

Some time later I needed to move her to a different kennel, but she bolted when I walked toward her. We “played” chase until I was frustrated. Then I remembered how she’d responded to Benjamin. So, I sent him to catch her. Continuing to keep one eye on me, she sat still as Benjamin approached her. He slipped on the leash and led her into the new kennel. Her tail wagged all the way.

I told Benjamin, “She seems to trust you, Son. If you can manage her, you can have her.” He grinned with pleasure. Her tail wagged. I guess she’ll be staying with us after all. She's now responding to His care and we’re all happy to have found a solution, though honestly, I don’t know who is happier—me, Benjamin or Reggie.

Our tussle with Reggie is somewhat like the history of God’s troubles with mankind. Scripture says, “Lastly, the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’ Therefore, God so loved the world that he sent His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Some people, like Reggie, live with fear. Working off personally painful experiences they pre-suppose that God may hurt them too. It's sad. They miss so much care and love by standing outside of His reach. The good news is that He's been kind enough to try reaching them via a new way--Jesus, His son. While it is true that not everyone responds to His son, there are, thank God, exceptions to every rule. I hope you are, or someday will be, such an exception…like Reggie, for instance.

1 comment:

KMiV said...

Thanks for the analogy Stephen. I do, many times, respond to God out of fear. Animals can be great teachers of our relationship with Jesus!
Happy Holidays, Ron Clark