I have come to love, and look forward to, the ways in which Jesus speaks to me through the crazy antics of the animals he has entrusted in our care. Every day there is a lesson to be learned. Or, better yet, the opportunity to recall and put into practice a lesson previously learned.
Last Tuesday morning was no exception.
Carson and I struggled out of bed before daylight, the time change really taking a toll on our bodies. We geared up and headed out for our morning milking. As we walked along, listening to the birds early morning “hello’s”, a cute little calf tail, happily swishing around, caught my eye. My line of sight quickly shifted to the left and there stood Ferdinand along side his momma, nursing away. His swishing tail a sign of delight. This, my friends, should not be.
See, we do not allow the calf to stay with his momma all day and night. He would take all her milk. So, they reside in separate areas, only to come together for a brief time after morning and evening milkings. In a perfect world, Bess would happily share her milk with us, while having her calf frolic freely with her all day and night. But we don’t live in a perfect world. And the word “sharing” is not in her vocabulary. Anyway…
Carson and I made our way to the barn, frantically discussing all the possible ways Ferdinand could have escaped into the pasture with Bess. Jumped the fence, ran through the fence, climbed the fence…
Try “none of the above.” It actually didn’t have a thing to do with the fence. Oh, the ironies.
This is what we found.
The gate, completely lifted off the hinges, with a narrow opening just big enough for a three week old calf to slip through.
We knew what happened, but didn’t really believe it until we saw it…
I stood right there watching her, dumbfounded.
A big, wide head wedging its way into the narrow spaces of the gate.
We had a heart to heart about why she should not be doing this. And I calmly explained to her all the dangers of continuing this behavior. She responded back with a snort and a long, loud “Mmmoooo!!”
Lesson learned? Negative. She did it again two days later.
As I walked away after the second occurence, the Lord brought Matthew 7:13-14 to my mind.
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
The Greek word for narrow here comes from the root word “histemi”, meaning “to make stand immovable, to place, put, set; to make firm, fix, establish.” In other words, it cannot be changed.
Once the post holes are dug, the posts are set, the concrete is poured, the support braces are intact… it’s there. The space is created for a specific size gate and it cannot hold a larger gate, nor a smaller one, than what is permitted by the posts that support it.
But here we come, all wide in our ever changing ways. If we can’t enter the gate in a correct way, we seem, like Bess, determined to get our overgrown belief systems squeezed through that narrow space between the rungs. And if that doesn’t work, let’s just rip it off the hinges.
I found the Greek word for wide very intriguing. It comes from the root word “plassos”, meaning “to mold, form; used of a potter.”
It’s the same word Timothy uses to describe how God “formed” Adam and Eve.
The only problem is this – God is not the potter for the wide gate. We are.
Overgrown belief systems. Be it Pharisee in nature, or worldliness.
And if we continue trying to wedge our wide ways into the narrow rungs of the gate, one day we might find ourselves stuck.
But then again, that might not be such a bad thing…