Finding Your Way Home

“Rocky” the calf (yep, old “milk-mouth” himself) is a pain in the tuchus. A few weeks ago, he decided he would slip through a loose area in the fence between pastures and go visit the fellas over in the other field. The fellas are yearling steers who are being gained to prepare for moving to a feedlot for finishing. While hanging with the big guys seemed a good idea, little “Rocky” didn’t consider how the enticing temptation would lead to such heartache.

Once in the other pasture, the steers took turns giving him the sniff test; decided he didn’t belong to their herd, and mostly ignored him. They didn’t find his high-tailing (running in circles around them with his tail pointed skyward) amusing. In fact, he found their curiosity with him didn’t last very long at all. As they all went back to grazing, “Rocky” stood there looking forlorn and confused.

Identifying where he escaped, I pulled the already stretched wires and tied them together with baling wire to make a larger opening. Logic told me that if he got out through this hole, he would come back through the larger opening in the same spot. An hour later, I remembered cows aren’t logical creatures and they’re not much for problem solving.

By 5:30 that evening, he decided it was time to eat. That’s when he realized his mama, “Lulu Belle”, was on the other side of the fence. As he walked up and down the fence line, crying out for his mama, she would respond. I knew he would be okay even if he didn’t nurse for an entire day. “He’ll figure this out” I thought. I watched him and his mama mirror one another on opposite sides of the fence for almost two hours. After watching him walk back and forth in front of the fence opening about a dozen times, I tried something different.

Getting a fresh square bale of hay, I called my cattle into the small adjoining pasture. As they enjoyed their early evening snack, I took one flake and set it just inside the hole in the fence. “Surely, he will come to get a bite of sweet hay and then he’ll just walk the rest of the way through the fence.” When I watched him put his head, shoulders, and front legs through the opening to get some hay, I thought resolution was near. Two minutes later, I’m shaking my head in disgust as he backs up into the other pasture and begins bawling again. I told myself, “Cows are so stupid.” Then I thought, “How bright are you genius? You can’t even get a cow to cross through a fence.”

With dusk falling and supper waiting, I gave up for the night and went inside. By 8:30, I was back outside, spotlight in hand, on the other side of the fence. By this time, “Rocky” was so distraught, I drove the quarter mile, opened the gate between the pastures, and let him walk to his mama through the gate. With that brought the risk that the larger steers would get through the gate before he did. More work for me.

The more I chased the yearling steers away, the more “Rocky” seemed to get confused. Every time they would run from my butt bat, he would too. After 30 minutes of this, the steers gave up the game and left to bed down for the night, leaving me, “Rocky”, and “Lulu Belle.” Finally, I had to walk “Rocky” down the fence line with my ATV. Every time he would stop and try to get through the tight fence, he’d get more anxious. I’d get him righted again and we would make another 20 feet. Once we arrived at the gate, his mama took control. She let out a loud bellow, and he scampered through the gate to get to her.

I stood back and watched as she allowed him to nurse for just a moment and then brush him away with her leg and walk away. She would take a few steps, stop, bellow at him again, and make him walk to her. I secured the gate and loosened the fence wires I had tied together earlier. This scolding between mother and calf continued as they crossed the pasture. As they neared the rest of the herd, mama called him one last time and he nursed for a good 10 minutes.

Thinking about it as I showered, I realized how many times I’ve followed a temptation and landed headfirst into the cesspool of sin. I ignored the Holy Spirit’s warning and dove in all the same. Like my little calf, it was later that I would come to regret my decision. Only then would I cry out for God to rescue me, yet again.

How often we succumb to temptation in the moment, only to regret it later? Click To Tweet

The next morning, as I was feeding, “Rocky” came up to me and laid his head on my leg. As I rubbed his poll, he seemed to say “Thank you for rescuing me Papa.” As aggravated as he made me the night before, I knew all was forgiven. I thought about how our Father in heaven reacts each time we come to Him after applying 1 John 1:9 in our lives yet again. I’m hoping “Rocky” doesn’t turn out to be as bull-headed as his caretaker. I pray you always remember to turn to God and ask Him to help you find your way home.

God’s blessings,

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58 thoughts on “Finding Your Way Home

  1. Thanks for the update on Rocky. Cows can be a lot of work but they are entertaining. And, like you, if we just stop and take the time to appreciate what God is showing us with these animals, we will see the lesson He is trying to teach/remind us of. Too many of us are “bull headed”.

    1. We sure are Mr. Monty. In fact, if we don’t recognize we are sometimes, then perhaps that’s when we have too bad a case of it. LOL So glad you enjoyed sir; and thank you for commenting.

  2. Awe, good to see and hear about Rocky again, even if it’s an adventure that cause him and you much heartache, J.D. Although, I must admit, this was an amusing story to read with all your humor and sarcasm. I would have felt sorry for Rocky much earlier on. Guess that’s my mama heart. But when we think about being parents, we aren’t doing our kids any favors by bailing them out of everything and too soon. It was wise of you to let the process naturally happen and giving Rocky a chance to get out of the predicament he brought on himself. So grateful the Lord is kind and patient with us and extends forgiveness every single time.

    1. Well said Ms. Karen. I thought it was great to see how his mama (“Lulu Belle”) reacted to him when he was returned. She scolded him, she forced him to submit to her, yet she loved him throughout the ordeal. Interesting enough, he’s been sticking very close to her for weeks now since that incident.

  3. Well, this took me a while to finish because I stopped at “he decided he would slip through a loose area in the fence between pastures and go visit the fellas over in the other field.” What an illustration straight from Genesis-stopping and looking in the wrong place and deciding–and a contemporary application. Always appreciate your parallels, JD and of course the end of the story-finding unfailing love and taking us in.

    1. Isn’t it so refreshing to know our God is always there when we need Him my friend? Thank you for this wonderful reminder, from His word, that He knows we are going to stray now and again, but He’s prepared a way for us to restore our right relationship with Him. Amen my friend.

  4. This story made me chuckle, J.D. You were so patient with your silly boy, Rocky. I’m glad our Father is as patient with my blunders, sins, and missteps. Thanks for the encouragement this morning!

    Blessings,
    Tammy

  5. I enjoy your farm life adventures. Love reading about the animals. You are very loving and compassionate to each animal. I am thankful God seeks me when I stray. Just like “Rocky”, I say “Thank You” each time I am rescued from temptation or sin. Have a blessed day!

    1. Thank you Ms. Melissa. It’s a wonderful, learning, life out here on the ranch. One that has certainly humbled me while teaching me many new things about God. That’s been my greatest blessing – growing closer to Him.

  6. I’m sorry to laugh at the hard work you had to endure but that made a comical sight. It was a great application to our lives though and you made a great point. I hope you calf stays home now so you can get some rest!

    1. Don’t be sorry Ms. Barbara; I laughed too later that evening after I could just think about it. I wonder how many times God sits up there on His throne and smiles as us as we ask His forgiveness for going astray. I reckon He reaches down and pats our heart or head to soothe us too. How wonderful it is to be loved.

  7. J.D., another wonderful rancher story with a great life/spiritual lesson attached!
    I so enjoyed reading this as I watched the video of it cranking along in my mind’s eye. Thank you for giving me that pleasant experience.
    God bless you!

    1. Yes ma’am. We’ve all got some of that in us don’t we? I worry when I don’t see that in myself. That’s when I start finding myself more judgmental and less merciful. God’s blessings ma’am.

    1. Me too Coach. Not sure it’s so much a seminary as it is a “trial by fire”, but it’s one I wouldn’t trade the world for. God teaches us so much out here in His country.

    1. Amen Ms. Stephanie. Not that I prefer to sin, but have come to the realization that until I am called upward, I will sin. I thank God each night for His promise in 1 John 1:9.

  8. Oh my, what a perfect example of how, as Kay Arthur often says, “Sin will take you farther than you ever expected to go; it will keep you longer than you ever intended to stay, and it will cost you more than you ever expected to pay.” Thanks for the warning and reminder, J.D.

    1. I’m saving that quote Ms. Lori. I’ve always been fond of the way she addresses us as “beloved”, but this is going as a wallpaper on my computer! Thank you so much for joining our conversation ma’am.

  9. I love reading the ranch lessons you learn, J. D., and then share with us. How like Rocky I am sometimes, going everywhere except where I need to go. Thank you for the reminder of our Father’s forgiveness. May we forgive others as He forgives us.

    1. Thank you Ms. Jeanne. I think we all have a bit of “Rocky” in us at times. What a wonderful reminder that we must forgive others in the same way the Father forgives us.

  10. Oh that inner Holy Spirit voice that says “Don’t do it!” and yet we do it anyway. It’s remarkable God is patient to forgive time and time again. Think about God guiding me back to safety and I balk stubbornly thinking I know best, not realizing He knows the best way home. I love your ranching stories.

    1. I hear ya Ms. Cathy! Why do we so often ignore what we know is right and fall to temptation? I think the Apostle Paul (Romans 7:15) may have been onto something my friend. It’s called the “human condition.” 🙂

  11. J.D., I smiled through the whole story of Rocky. I’m sure our Papa shakes his head at us too. Wonderful picture of Him watching over us as you tried to rescue Rocky.

    1. Amen Ms. Debbie! I sometimes wonder if Jesus leans over to His Father and says “Can you believe this guy Abba? I know he’s one of ours, but we sure could’ve spent some extra time when we were forming him; especially in the smarts department.” 🙂 Alas, our loving God is always there to rescue us isn’t He?

  12. I just love these vivid stories from the ranch. Not only have we been a Rocky, but we also have likely been the older crowd ignoring a young wannabe or the parent who wavers between quickly rescuing or holding back to teach the child a lesson, fussing all the way. Delightful post, J.D. and full of truth.

  13. Oh, boy. I relate to Rocky. I can be pretty bull-headed myself. I’m forever grateful for the Lord’s patience and grace as I learn from my many mistakes.

    Thanks for another heartwarming post from the ranch.

  14. Wonderful story. I love cows so much, maybe because they’re so cute in spite of having little intelligence. I can sure identify with that confused and lost calf, but I’m thankful that the Lord works with me to bring me back when I stray. I’m very thankful for His grace and patience.

    1. Thank you for joining our conversation Ms. Karen. I too am so grateful for our patient and loving Father who always helps us find our way back home to Him. God’s blessings ma’am. And glad you like cattle; they are surely a blessing, and always good for a laugh or six.

  15. Oh me, Rocky, Rocky, Rocky. How fortunate you are to have a handler that loves you. First, he allowed you to make your own decisions (after a bad one at that) and watched you from afar. Then he tried to encourage you with good choices but you didn’t act. And finally, when you cried out, he lovingly showed you the way. You deserved scolding and I can’t say for sure your lesson was taught but perhaps you will remember if the opportunity arises again. The question will be: will your handler be there to save you? Yes indeed. Every time.

    1. I read your post to him. He licked his approval and then tried to eat the paper. In the immortal words of Foghorn Leghorn, “I worry about that boy. He’s about as sharp as a bowling ball.” 🙂 I think we all have a little “Rocky” in us don’t we ma’am?

  16. Awwww such a good analogy. I envisioned it all. And it’s funny how we think someone else’s “sin” is so awful (or a calf is so stupid), until we see the same in ourselves. Enjoyed your post.

    1. Well thank you Ms. Jeanne. I share thoughts about my blogs each Thursday evening at 9:30pm EST at http://www.pjnet.tv It would be wonderful to see you there sometime ma’am. I’m certain God chuckles at the ways I try to serve Him. I wonder if he ever thought “Elmer Fudd” would ever speak publicly. 🙂

  17. Haha! As I read this, I imagined God in your position of trying to make Rocky understand, with us being in Rocky’s position sometimes. How often does He just want us to go through the hole in the fence?

    1. 😀 So very glad you enjoyed Ms. Robin; and thank you for the beautiful hand-made note you sent this past week. Such a wonderful talent you have ma’am. I’ve asked myself that same question many times (how patient in our God). I can’t help but think of 1 Corinthians 10:13, where God’s word tells us (paraphrased) that He’ll make an escape from every temptation. Sometimes I just know the Holy Spirit is screaming inside me “It’s right there in front of you, take it!” when I’m facing some tempting or another. I hope He throws His arms in the air in celebration when I avoid one, and other times looks down and shakes His head in disgust when I fail to respond to His call. In all cases, I try to remember I need to make sure I am “square with the house” at the end of each day (so I can rest peacefully) and that I’ve thanked Him for being with me through it all. God’s blessings ma’am.

  18. I loved your story and love Rocky! Aren’t we just as stubborn as he is sometimes? I’m thankful God is patient and loves us no matter how willful we are! Thankful for your excellent insight.

    1. Well, I can only speak for myself Ms. Evelyn, but yes ma’am; I can be as stubborn as a “Alabama tick” some days. We have occasion to desire the momentary pleasure (sometimes only perceived) of the temptation rather than do what we know to be right. Not really sure why. I’m going to blame in on the fall of the “first Adam”, but an eternally grateful that our “Second Adam” came along to redeem us. Such love. God’s blessings ma’am; and thank you so much for joining our conversation. I’m thrilled to see you here.

  19. My goodness! You know, those of us who are not cattle ranchers just have no idea. And, we’ve always been told that sheep are the “dumb” ones. SMH. Well, I am just grateful, as you pointed out, that our Abba Father, is patient with us when we wander off after the “greener grass”. As painful as conviction and confession are, they are simply “holes in the fence” to reconciliation, restoration and resumption of joy! And, thanks for teaching me how to spell “tuchus”, lol! I always thought there was a “k” in it! Blessings, J.D.!

    1. Yes ma’am. I too am so glad God leaves us a path back to Him. It is difficult to confess and request His help to change (repent), but oh it feels so good when we “come home” and the right relationship with our Lord is restored. 😀 And I’m glad you learned how to spell tuchus too. I asked a Jewish friend of mine to confirm; for many years I spelled this Yiddish word phonetically (tookis [sic]) too.

  20. Although I loved your lesson, this was my favorite sentence: I told myself, “Cows are so stupid.” Then I thought, “How bright are you genius? You can’t even get a cow to cross through a fence.” Thanks for the smile, J.D. Sounded like something I’d say to myself too!

    1. 🙂 I am so glad I brought a smile my friend. I think we’ve all “been there done that” a time or two in our lives. It’s good that we are able to laugh at ourselves isn’t it? God’s blessings Ms. LuAnn.

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