A Stronger Fence

One thousand five hundred four feet of 2 7/8-inch drill stem, posts eight-foot on center and sunk five-foot deep; each encased in 160 pounds of concrete. Welded top-rail and a sucker rod bottom join each post to the other. We welded the 16-foot heavy-gauge steel panels across top, bottom, and sides. Standing five-feet tall, let us pray the new western fence proves to be “bull strong.”

The year 2021 has proven to be a costly one for our Cross-Dubya. We haven’t spent this much on fencing since building out our north and south pastures in 2014. Without question, this is the most expensive (and I hope secure) fence I’ve ever built. I asked myself several times during its construction if “Mavric” the bull was worth it. When he comes walking up to me and lays his massive head in my hand, sighs, and looks me in the eye, I’m reassured he is.

As caretaker for the Cross-Dubya and steward of all the blessings God has entrusted to me, I recognize that security and protection is a big part of that charge. Hoping to get two more years from the old fencing along the western edge of our ranch, the added stress of neighboring cattle proved too much. After many failed attempts to bolster and repair the old fence in the past few months, competing bulls and age of the wire all worked against me.

Even though, like most western US states, Texas is an “open range” (or “fence out”) state, I purposely built the fences here at the Cross-Dubya “fence in”. This means I choose to keep my livestock on my property for their safety and my peace of mind.

One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is Romans 7. In it, the Apostle Paul summarizes the struggle all Christians face with temptation and sin. I think the last sentence of this discourse sums up this summer’s fencing challenges. “So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin” (excerpted from Romans 7:25, NKJV). When my buddy “Mavric” is with his herd on the north and south pastures, he is gentle, easy-going, and relaxed. When temptation is just a few strands of electrified and barbed wire away, his flesh takes control and he becomes both obsessed and aggressive in obtaining what he desires. The solution? Build a stronger fence.

Whether past military service or my obsessive compulsive manner, I compel myself to perform a post-mission debrief or after action report to identify lessons learned from everything I do. As God has been showing me, this analysis is a great time to seek spiritual lessons in my everyday life. Yes, that includes building a new fence to keep two aggressive bulls separated.

God showed me that while I can’t remove the temptation of those alluring cows in the neighbor’s pasture from “Mavric”, I also can’t remove temptations to sin from my life. As they do, temptations play to the instinctual natures and desires we are born with. What I can do is create stronger fences that make it more difficult to give into those temptations. For “Mavric”, that meant lots of steel pipe and four-inch square steel mesh he can’t get his head through to stretch and separate.

But what does that stronger fence to help deter me from temptation look like? I pondered this question during my “God time”, and the answer came quickly. You can’t, the Holy Spirit whispered to me. I smiled as joyous tears rolled down my face. He was right! As flesh, while I remain on this earth, my carnal human nature will always war with my spiritual nature, God implanted at my salvation. I realized that as I strengthen my faith and surrender to God’s will, my spiritual fence becomes stronger. God was right; I can’t do this myself, but through His omnipotent strength, He can. By learning to listen, respond, and learn from the Holy Spirit, my spiritual fence becomes stronger and I can more easily resist temptation.

The Holy Spirit can be our stronger fence in the spiritual battle waging within us each day. Click To Tweet

My prayer this week is that you ask God to show you the weak spots in your spiritual fence. Then, surrender yourself to Him so that together you and He can strengthen your faith and bolster your defenses for the coming days. Here’s to building stronger fences my friends.

God’s blessings,

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46 thoughts on “A Stronger Fence

  1. Well, J.D., you’ve hit the nail on the head again. Those battling two kingdoms are far beyond what I could hope to separate, but God.

    Thanks for another Mavric story exposing God’s will for us. So let it be.

    1. Thank you Mr. Warren. God’s been using my big fella to teach me a great many lessons this year. So glad you’ve been a part of it sir. Sure hope we get to see y’all next year.

  2. J.D., this born in the city girl loves the lessons you bring from your ranch! As I read about having to build stronger fences, I also thought of how God places boundaries in our lives to keep us safe. To keep us removed from sin. May we be willing to stay within the boundaries He has set for us and enjoy the pastures in where He has placed us.

  3. Yet again, J. D., you’ve given us all another powerful analogy. Praying that the Holy Spirit will strengthen my fences so I’ll not go astray from the will of God. Only He can keep me from sinning.
    Blessings!

  4. JD, I always enjoy your posts, especially when you use the common life on the Cross-Dubya. Mavric sure gets his share of ink! I believe fences and the construction of them are akin to the never ending attempt to build a better mouse trap. Every fence is great until it is breeched. Fences truly make good neighbors, especially with critters the size of Mr. Mavric!

  5. Ah, Mr. J.D., another wonderful analogy! I am sure you have a wonderful farm and all the animals love you for the good care you give them.
    Yes, we also need those fences! To keep the enemy out and to keep us close to the Father’s loving heart.

    Blessings!

  6. I always love your ranch analogies, too, Mr. J.D. The story part really draws me in, and the end always leaves me thinking. You’re gifted, my friend. And give Mavric some extra love from me. I always enjoy reading about him, and I can see him resting his head in your hand.

    1. Thank you so much Ms. Ane; coming from a master storyteller like yourself, I am humbled ma’am. And I sure will make sure our old pal “Mavric” gets a couple extra cubes from his friend Ms. Ane. Give my buddy Seamus a big hug from me, and maybe a Beggin’ Strip or six. 😀 God’s blessings ma’am.

    1. Me too Ms. Dottie. “Mavric”, the girls, Bubba, and my donkeys all make the mountain of chores and projects around here a bit easier to accept some days. Thank you sweet friend.

    1. Am so glad you enjoyed Ms. Candyce. Knowing that we’re protected and not left alone to resist and fight sure makes our journey easier doesn’t it ma’am? God’s blessings gentle friend.

    1. Distance not required Ms. Gail. He is perhaps the most gentle bull (when he’s not all aggravated and perplexed by temptation) you’ll ever meet. I’ve been tempted to hop on his back and let him walk me around the pasture, but then I remember my bones are more brittle and there’s a lot more mass than there used to be. I trust him, but also remember we are not to tempt God. 😀

  7. As always, the spiritual connection is clear and the lesson is both powerful and personal. One of the things that struck me (in addition to the more obvious ones) is that we live in a culture that militates against moral fences and constantly promotes a “open range,” no fences mentality when it comes to moral and ethical behavior. The “no borders” policy of our current administration mirrors the lie that the devil always wants us to believe–that we can have total freedom to indulge our lusts with no consequences. I couldn’t help being reminded of the scars I’ve incurred trying to but my head through God’s protective fences. Like you, I am deeply grateful for His willingness to do for me what I cannot (and would not) do for myself. Great lessons, J.D.–AMEN! and God bless you.

    1. Thank you Mr. Ron; and I could not agree more sir. What has happened to our world is perhaps inevitable as time draws nigh, but I certainly never expected to live in Sodom and Gomorrah in this modern age my friend. I sometimes think of Lot and how he had to protect his guests from the ugly hoard bent on fulfilling their lustful desires. I see how many have been every bit as deceived as in his day; and I await the same remedial judgment of God to be applied. Let us not look back my friend and plow a straight row to heaven’s gates sir. God’s blessings to you and Ms Diane.

  8. I picture Jesus as standing between me and temptation, a fence to protect me from danger. Fences protect our animals–cows, horses, other livestock, dogs, etc. Fences protect our children on schools and playgrounds. Those fences are all necessary for safety, but we know that our true protection from sin, temptation, and danger is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As always, I love these lessons you share from the ranch. Blessings to you all on the Cross-Dubya.

    1. Thank you Ms. Laura Lee. I’m glad you enjoy ma’am; and I too am so grateful God never fails to answer our call. And like you, I pray He keeps me fenced in and growing strong in His pasture ma’am.

  9. Your solution to keep Mavric in is the same we are told in James, Resist the devil and he will flee. The fence resists Mavric when he pushes against it and keeps him under control. What a great analogy you shared! Thanks, J.D.

    1. Yes ma’am. When you’ve got a one-ton behemoth on one side and his alter ego on the other side, any fence is bound to take a beating. My hopes are that it withstands the pressures enough that they finally give up and walk away, each staying where they belong.

  10. While traveling west recently-I thought of you and Mavric! We passed a field in eastern Kansas where a cow had just found a way over a damaged area of fence near a shallow gulley. Most of the herd was following, trotting down the hill in a line to jump over behind her.

    1. LOL! 😀 A common occurrence Ms. Ronda. In fact, just yesterday I turned the corner in my truck and came face-to-face with two errant escapees from one of my neighbors. The color of the ear tag will generally tell us who they belong to. After describing them to my friend and neighbor, he immediately knew who those characters were and where they came from. I’m not the only one fixing fences these days. The best we hope to do it keep them safe and persuade them to stay on our country backroad and not venture out into traffic on the highway. I think sometimes God feels that way when we wander off the reservation.

  11. I just read in another post that we should view our Godly fences as guardrail that are for our protection. I love your comment of how Mavric lays his head in your hands, what a picture of love and trust. I want my relationship with Christ to be like that always. Thanks JD.

  12. Such an inspiring, visually powerful lesson here, JD. Those “bull on the other side” temptations will never cease to pester, but we do have a worthy barrier in Christ (shocks sometimes too when necessary) to remind us to keep inside the boundaries He’s established. Hugs to Mavric!

    1. So true Ms. Mary. It’s all in learning how to most effectively deal with them isn’t it ma’am? Sometimes, the best answer is avoidance. When that doesn’t work, then restraint. Works in my spirit too. God’s blessings my friend.

  13. Lord, fence me in with your Holy Spirit. Give me the discernment and strength to heed your voice when I need to remain within your boundaries.

    Thank you for blessing me again today, friend!

    Peace and grace,
    Tammy

  14. I love your lesson today that the Holy Spirit is our strong fence against temptation! And this prayer is just what we all need to pray–“My prayer this week is that you ask God to show you the weak spots in your spiritual fence. Then, surrender yourself to Him so that together you and He can strengthen your faith and bolster your defenses for the coming days. ” Thank you, J.D.

    1. Yes ma’am; I think we all have those “blind spots” in our spiritual life that we just can’t see. Of the many things I love about the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives is His ability to show these to us and help us to correct them. Thank you so much for the blessing of your counsel sweet friend. Praying you have a blessed week ahead; and I can’t wait to see your next artistic post this weekend.

  15. I look forward to meeting Mavric one day. He reminds me of our human natures which rebel against our spirits, trying to find a way across God’s fence of protection. I always pray for a hedge of protection around me and my family as well as His blood covering. There’s nothing more powerful than God’s fence, and I want to stay inside it. Thanks for another lesson of wisdom, my friend.

    1. Great prayers Ms. Karen. I often pray those same prayers ma’am. And “Mavric” can’t wait to meet you ma’am. I’ve told him all about you and he can’t wait for you, and maybe Ms. Jait, to come visit one day. 🙂

  16. J.D. I so love your writings and stories from the ranch. They are noteworthy on their own, but coupled with a spiritual lesson, it makes your words all the more valuable. I pray the Holy Spirit helps me resist temptation by walking in the Spirit more and more often as I rely on HIs strength to gain the victory

    1. Thank you Ms. Karen. Yes, walking in the Spirit daily is a great way to help protect ourselves against temptation. Because He goes before us, He can help guide us “stay out of the wire” as we ranchers say. Stay safe in the saddle sweet lady. God’s blessings.

  17. Let’s not underestimate the time you invested in minimizing the temptations. For Mavric, for us, much time is involved in succumbing to the temptations our human nature (or animal instinct) arouses within us. For Mavric, it required a strong fence. Even then, we must note it has to be STRONG. For us, that strength comes from the Word, prayer, and our intimate relationship with the Heavenly Father. And unfortunately, sometimes we can still fall short. Darn that devil!

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