Monday, June 19, 2017

When the Grass Seems Greener but It's Really Not

(The events in this story happened several years ago, but I'm sharing this again because... why not? The language might sound as if it happened yesterday, but it didn't...)

Usually when the mayor calls, there's a municipal issue to discuss.  A while back, however, she called with bad news.  

"Leanna," she said. "You at home? 'Cause your cows are up here in the road."  

It's unusual for my cows to get out.  My fences are good and the cows are all well-trained and content.  On this particular day, however, they had run through two fences to get out, then continued to run up the gravel driveway and out to the road. 

I was already dressed for an evening meeting, in my cutest sparkly, beaded top.  It's my favorite.  With cows out, though, I didn't have time to change. Cows on the road are an enormous risk for motorists and a huge liability for me, not to mention incredibly risky for the cows.  

I headed to the barn for a bucket and feed, then went in search of the cows, still wearing my favorite sparkly top.  I breathed a sigh of relief as I saw the cows grazing in my neighbor's yard, and rattled the bucket, calling them as loudly as I could.  

"Here girls, come on girls."  

That's what I always say, and they ALWAYS come. Except yesterday.  They didn't come yesterday.  In fact, they didn't even look up.  They were munching away at the grass that must have seemed greener (being on the other side of the fence).

Lest I was bested by a small herd of cows, I headed toward them, still rattling the feed in the bucket. Much to my surprise, they turned around and started running up the road that runs alongside my farm. 

Running is not quite the best description of what they were doing.  Sprinting at break-neck speed was more like it. I tried to run, too, but my two fleshy legs couldn't keep up with them. 

As I headed up the road, my neighbor, Sam, offered to help. Our plan was that he would drive us up the road, get in front of the speeding cows, turn crossways in the street, and I'd jump out and lure them back to the farm with the bucket of feed.  

They do that all the time in the movies. Well, they do the driving and turning crossways part.  I've never seen a movie where a middle-aged woman in a sparkly top with a big bucket of feed jumps out and herds cows. You don't want to, either. 

That plan worked pretty well, once we got the cows to get in a single-file line.  That was no easy task itself.  

Sam whipped around crossways in the road, I hopped out, and for a moment I caught their attention.  I thought they were headed to the bucket, but no, they weren't.  

They whirled around again, this time headed back to the main road, running all out.  How could cows that are not just well-proportioned but still nursing babies run like that? I wondered.  

Not to be outdone, I jumped back in the car, and we started following them again, hoping to do another whip-across. 

They must have figured out our tactic, because they soon veered over to another neighbor's farm and ran up to his barn.  I was really grateful when they paused in front of the barn door. That little bovine rest-stop gave me time to jump out of the car and rattle the bucket again. 

It did about as much good as a pair of maracas, because they realized the car that had blocked them was now stopped.  The road was clear, and they took full advantage, racing like a lion was chasing, right back up the road from which we had just come.  I voice-texted like crazy, recruiting people to pray that these silly cows would stop and head home. 

By this time I was doing more than glistening, my hairdo was a total loss, and my favorite sparkly top was decidedly less than fresh, but there was nothing to do but head back after them.  

Of course, I had to jump back in the car as Sam revved the motor to race up the road again.  By the time we did the whip-around once more, we were further up the side road than ever before.  

At last, Sam successfully accomplished a decisive turn crossways in the road with such authority that the cows stopped.  The mama-moos looked like they were still having fun, but I was more than a little breathless with the adventure.  

I just stood still, prayed, and begged them to come to me.  Glory hallelujah! They did! I let Miss Freckles stick her head in the bucket for a bite.  She nearly knocked it out of my hand, but I held on firm.  Betsy lumbered over for a bite, and I took a few steps forward.  

A quick glance back revealed a line of cows, calmly following along behind me.  I wanted to collapse with relief, but we weren't home yet. 

I walked a bit, then let a cow sneak a bite, then walked a little more. Gradually, we made our way back home and down the long gravel drive.  When I opened the gate, they all walked in and headed toward the barn.  I followed along and filled the feed trough, then locked them in the pecan grove. They all ate a few bites, but left most of the food in the trough.  

They hadn't gotten out because they were hungry, they just wanted an adventure, I guess. 

Once the cows were safe, (and the motorists were safe from the cows), I quickly changed clothes and headed back to repair the fence.  Bill, who helped on my farm, arrived just in time, and before long we had completely repaired/replaced the fence, the cows were back in their usual pasture, and calm reigned again. 

I have no idea what precipitated those cows to run wild.  They weren't hungry.  They had a safe, green pasture.  I may never know why they ran. 

One thing I did realize, all over again, was that running wild after them didn't help.  

It was only when I was still, centered, and holding something more attractive than the road on which they were running, that they finally turned and headed back to me. There's a lot of truth in that, isn't there? 

One really good thing came of the adventure.The fences they tore down were the last pieces of fencing that had not been replaced.  That stretch of fencing had bothered me for quite some time. Thanks to the race-cows, I had excellent fencing in the worst stretch, and it happened so fast I could hardly believe it.  

There are several lessons we can draw from this experience, but let's focus on the restlessness that drove cows with excellent pasture, a steady source of provision, and a nice owner to break free and frantically run straight into danger. 

We humans are no better than cows in resisting that restlessness that entices us to run away from the security of our Heavenly Father's care and lush pastures. When we succumb, we can find ourselves running headlong into the danger that can wreck our lives and leave untold destruction in our wake.

Drugs. Alcohol. Adultery. They can glitter like gold in the seductive light of temptation. Bitterness, unforgiveness, gossip, gluttony and a plethora of other sins can be just as enticing. When we step outside safe pastures, no matter what the temptation, we can find ourselves in a world of woe from which it's difficult to find our way back.

Scripture makes it sound so simple, and it is. Resist the devil. Flee temptation. Embrace truth. 

Stay inside the fence. It's there for a reason.

"With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments." Psalm 119:10 esv
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