At our Cross-Dubya ranch, when calves reach six to seven months old, it’s time to wean them from their mamas. This is an important step in a cow-calf operation as mama cows are usually bred again and need time to recover during the last half of their gestation. Of all the times in a cow’s life, weaning is perhaps the most stressful. I’ll always remember the lesson God taught me the first time we weaned calves here on our ranch.
In preparing to wean the first calves born here, I did a lot of reading and asked countless questions. I learned that “fenceline” or “shared fence” weaning was the least stressful way to wean a calf from its mother. Stressed cattle mean lower weight gain, less peace, and more problems. My research taught me that weaning is not only stressful for the calf but also its mother. In fenceline weaning, we separate calves and mothers so the calves cannot nurse their mothers. They share a common fenceline, as seeing each other comforts both mother and calf.
When weaning time arrives, I separate calves into an adjacent pasture that allows them to share a short fenceline and separate sections of the barn with their mothers. They can see one another, and often they’ll tenderly touch noses through the fences and gates. Watching a mother lick and try to comfort her calf is a touching sight to this grizzled old veteran.
One thing is certain, when it’s weaning time the Cross-Dubya becomes an awful noisy place. No one gets much sleep for all the bawling and calls for each other coming from around the ranch. At first, the calves and their mamas stand near the gates and pipe fence separating the two groups. Mothers low softly and their calves respond with soft cries. While they seem peaceful enough, neither will leave the others’ sight. After a few hours, one wanders away to get a drink of water or something to eat. As soon as they’re out of sight, the bawling begins. Mamas and babies call for each other and they find their way right back to the shared fence.
I know fenceline weaning is less stressful, but it broke my heart that first night when they had to sleep in the barn or pasture, separated from the other.
Listening to the cattle bawl for each other the first few days, God reminded me of how David cried out to Him. In Psalm 109:26, David wrote “Help me, O Lord my God! Oh, save me according to Your mercy,” (NKJV). It is unclear whether David wrote this Psalm while being pursued by King Saul or during the rebellion by his son Absalom. What was clear is how David felt alone, abandoned, and cut-off from the Lord―his source of strength, peace, and resolve. This caused me to think about how my calves must have felt when I removed their security blanket.
Most of us recall having a security blanket of one sort or another when we were young. Some had a favorite Teddy Bear or toy; others had an actual blanket that went everywhere with them. I don’t recall having anything as a child, but I’ve come to realize as an adult that the Holy Spirit is my security blanket. I take Him everywhere I go and when I can’t sense His presence in my life, I start feeling anxious.
My favorite story of the importance of security blankets is from my stepson, John Christopher. Before he was a part of my life, I’m told he carried his security blanket with him everywhere he went (like Linus of the famed Charlie Brown™ comic strip). As the story goes, his grandmother was trying to help him give up his precious “pahkie” (his blanket) after his mom had tried for weeks. As only a child can, during the discussion, my wife’s son held up his blanket and stated “This a pahkie.” Then he climbed into his grandmother’s lap, hugged her and said “This a pahkie.” Shortly afterwards, he laid his security blanket down in favor of his grandmother’s comfort. Don’t we do the same thing when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior?How do you ensure God's constant presence in your life? Click To Tweet
I try my best to avoid spiritual separation anxiety by keeping God in my heart and forefront in my thoughts throughout the day. For me, this means starting and ending my day with praise and prayer. I’ve found it’s that middle part that finds me furthest from God. When I let busyness take precedence or my thoughts focus on daily challenges of this life, I can lose sight of what’s most important. Other times, I allow the world to close in around me and rob me of my joy. Another trigger for anxiety is when we separate ourselves from God through our unconfessed sin.
Like my weaning calves, when I realize I’m separated from my spiritual security blanket, I cry out and seek safety. In my case, it’s the presence of my Lord. My prayer for each of us is that we allow the Holy Spirit to fill us with separation anxiety when needed.