Pulling Up Lame

I don’t like gophers, armadillos, possums, skunks, and every other pasture digger who adds to my already busy days. I know they don’t mean harm, but when they dig holes or burrows in my pastures, one of my livestock friends invariably pulls up lame. This is what happened a couple of weeks ago. During morning feedings, I realized one of my best mama cows, “Aunt Yolanda,” didn’t come to feed.

Part of my herd since 2016, when “Yo-Yo-Landa” isn’t one of the first to come to the feed trough or mooch a cube from my hand, something is up. As I approached her, she stood, and I noticed she was lame, front-right. At three months pregnant, I knew it wasn’t from my amorous bull “Mavric”, so I sent Mr. John for some extra feed and hay. While he was gone, I could manipulate her leg to examine her.

I always check first for foot rot (between their toes), then look for hoof cracks or signs of white line disease. It’s best to rule these out early, as infection can cause lots of other issues the longer it goes. Seeing no signs of these, I next check for stones in her sole. With that clear, and no heat in the joint, I treat general lameness with rest. When a cow pulls up lame, it can affect gain and overall health because they’re not moving, which means they’re not grazing and drinking.

With mobility issues, I try to limit how much they travel, so when she came near, we guided her into the feedlot. Later, we brought in her calf “Sophia” (still nursing); giving them a luxury stay for a few days in hopes it was a bruise. Her stay over the Labor Day weekend didn’t result in much improvement, so a trip to the vet was in order. One of my more gentle but noisy girls; she loaded easily and I carefully drove my three-legged baby to the vet.

With part of one toe tore off, although that happened after her lameness, both I and the vet thought perhaps an infection inside the foot. Using a hoof tester (a large pair of blunt pinching pliers), he checked for soreness. With little swelling, no tenderness in the foot, etc., the vet ruled out infection and we decided we were dealing with a sprain. If you will, think of it as a sprained ankle (although I don’t think cows have ankles). Treatment is a $100 vet bill for the tilt table exam, a shot of banamine (an NSAID for cows), and 10 days of confined rest and prayer.

Lameness can happen easily and is costly in many ways. #SpiritualHealth #NoStumbling Share on X

Driving home and placing “Yolanda” back in the feedlot, I started thinking about how the injury was most likely caused by a burrow entrance. Back to my original statement, “I hate, or at least strongly dislike, burrowing animals in my pastures.” These pasture diggers, mostly armadillos and pocket gophers in these parts, will make holes in the ground that lead to their burrows a foot or more underground. Inevitably, a cow, horse, or donkey will step in the hole and injure their foot. The result, lameness.

While I always look for these burrow entrances and fill them in when I find them, they’re not always visible. I thought about how these holes are a form of stumbling block for my livestock and how costly they can be. This led me to remember verses from Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8. Here, God’s word cautions Christians against becoming stumbling blocks for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

How can we keep ourselves from being a stumbling block to other Christians? #SpiritualHealth #WalkingWithChrist #NoStumbling Share on X

That night, I re-read Mark 9:38-50 and considered ways I can cause others to stumble in their faith walk. I also thought about ways I can encourage them to keep growing in Christ and in their ministry (Mark 9:41). Some ways I might cause other Christians to stumble, especially less mature Christians, include being judgmental, placing doctrinal beliefs over faith lessons, and selective Christianity. That last one is my term, but I’ll define it as my only choosing to associate with those that think, look, and act like me. We all sometimes forget that there are no “cookie-cutter Christians”, and God can use all His children to carry out His kingdom work in whatever way He chooses. As my pastor loves to remind us, “all means all.”

One way I can support other Christians who may differ from me is to encourage their walk with the Lord. There are many ways we can do that. We can offer to help them refine or improve their ministry effectiveness, join with them in prayer for God’s direction, and support their efforts. A kind word of encouragement often helps new believers take those first timid steps in serving God.

I’ve seen (and perhaps contributed to) older Christians cause younger ones to stumble in their faith journey because older Christians become too set in our ways to try anything different. I think resistance to change is human nature, and we can all fall victim to thinking in that way. Recognizing how easily, and sometimes inadvertently, we can cause others to stumble is the best way I know to defend against it. We find a most wonderful gift of our Christian faith in Psalm 37.

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord,
And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall
not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds
him with His hand.”
(Psalm 37:23-24, NKJV)

Whether we cause another’s stumbling or stumble ourselves, our faith in God reassures us He will never let us go. I often form a mind picture of God’s large hand wrapped so tightly around mine that mine is not even visible. It reminds me that God is holding my hand. I’m not holding His—and God’s word promises He will never let go. I pray my cow’s lameness helps you remember both that we can cause someone to stumble and pull up lame, but we can also prevent it.

God’s blessings,

58 thoughts on “Pulling Up Lame”

  1. What a beautiful reminder of God’s faithfulness and the pitfalls we can encounter in this life. I love the picture of God holding your hand. I always think of it in just that way and use the example of holding my little grandson’s hand – more than he is holding mine! Praying Yolanda heals quickly my friend.

  2. Good lesson again this week. Your line “my only choosing to associate with those that think, look, and act like me,” really stood out. It’s too easy for me to stay in my comfort zone. The Lord may put some of those “others” in my circle of operation, and instead of wishing they would go away, I need to be more intentional in the opportunity. Thanks for the challenge this morning, JD.

    1. Thank you Ms. Dottie. I see that not only at churches, but in offices, stores, etc. More and more today, it seems folks are keeping their “heads down” and not looking for opportunities to interact with others. I often think, “I can’t shine God’s light if no one can see Him in me!” The eyes are windows to the soul, and I pray that even if I’m not smiling the see fruits of the Spirit in my eyes. God’s blessings ma’am.

  3. God bless you for another thought provoking post, J.D. Having inadvertently stepped in a few holes myself, I can relate to injuries that can happen when we take things for granted spiritually and aren’t paying attention. I can also relate to your admonition about not being a stumbling block to others because we think we’ve got it figured out and sort of shun those who don’t come to the same conclusions we do about some hobby-horse doctrinal issue. So, my friend, you’ve once again thrown me into some deep and important issues to think about this morning, and I love the way God uses you to do that. Thanks to you, I’ll be a bit more aware of where I step today, and to holes I might be unconsciously digging that could cause others to come up lame.

    1. Thank you so much Mr. Ron. I pray you know how encouraging your words are to me sir. Am truly blessed to have so many wonderful Christian writing friends in my life to show me the way. I thank God each day for all those He has put into my life. Some, like you, teach and exhort. Others, like you, rebuke and correct. And some, like you, sit with me with a warm cup of coffee around the fire pit as we revel in the bonds of fellowship and friendship. Praying always sir.

    1. Yes ma’am. We sure can Ms. Diana, and I like to think that it’s never intentional. It can happen though, which is why we need to be watching out for them “gopher holes” my friend. 🙂

    1. Thank you Ms. Debbie. Am so glad you enjoyed ma’am. I haven’t had an opportunity to visit with my friends at LabCorp lately, but still looking forward to the day when I can meet you and Mr. Larry face-to-face and perhaps share a meal. If not, then we’ll share praise to our Lord together on Heaven’s shore.

  4. Wonderful story. I look at the mobility part because that’s what this ol’ fuddy papa struggles with, for it makes me timid and to count my steps before trying a project. And thanks too, from this devotional writer who often gets too strong of word, when some focus on worship and praise might offer a better call.
    Ol’ papa

    1. Just spent time with the podiatrist today, getting my “wheels” aligned Mr. Terry, so I understand the challenges well. So pleased you enjoyed the post my friend. God’s blessings.

  5. Another stellar analogy, J. D.! May I be vigilant not to cause a brother or sister to stumble in their Christian walk. And after all my physical therapy, I can sure commiserate with all those who have mobility issues. I’m so thankful that God is taking me down the path to healing.

    1. You’re a blessing Ms. Martha. Thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement ma’am. I’m glad God is taking you down that path too sweet sister in Christ. Best to you and Mr. Danny today.

    1. I join you in that prayer Ms. Melissa. I’m certain I’ve been a stumbling block in the past, and I pray daily that God can still use me to help lift up anyone I’ve caused to stumble and fall in the past; and of course, keep me from making those same mistakes today. 🙂

  6. J.D., I know what those diggers can do too. We have dealt with armadillos in our yard. I bought 40 bags of topsoil to fill in their damage. Those holes are stumbling blocks for the yard, the lawn mower doesn’t like them either. When we see how destructive these burrows can be we can examine our own behavior and correct anything that could cause another to fall before that attitude hole gets dug. Blessings!

    1. Yes ma’am. There’s at least twice a year when we’ll hook up the bucket on the tractor or fill up the back of the UTV to go find and fill them “digger holes”. So blessed by your comments my friend. Thank you!

  7. What a great caretaker you are to those four legged friends. I shudder to consider who’s fallen into the holes I’ve inadvertently burrowed and caused a painful sprain to their faith. Some of them I gave birth to. I pray my efforts to love well and mend their wounds in ointment of grace. Watch your step out there, JD!

    1. From your lips to God’s ear Ms. Mary. I sometimes think I can and should be doing more for my furry friends, but I ask God each morning to give me the discernment to know what to do and the strength to get it done for them. God’s blessings ma’am.

  8. Love this – not just because the hero in my first romance is a veterinarian, who’s injured working on a lame bull. I also relate being lame myself and scheduled for a knee replacement next month. But I really relate to being careful not to impede another Christian’s walk with God!

    1. Many of us have “love affairs” with our vets Ms. Ronda, so I bet your book is well-loved. I can relate to being injured by bulls. I once had one swing his massive head around to swat a fly away. He hit me instead and I found myself slung nearly 12 feet away from where I was standing. I learned that day to either be in front of or behind the front shoulders, and NEVER off to the side of their rear legs. LOL

  9. J.D., God is so good! Lately, He’s put that picture of His very large hand holding my very small hand and guiding me along the path of life in my mind for meditation. I’m so thankful He never lets go.

    1. Yes! I love picturing God holding my hand as I go throughout the day and do different things. I think of how I instinctively reach out for my sweet Ms. Diane’s hand as we’re walking together somewhere, and I like to imagine God doing that very same thing with each one of His children.

    1. Thank you Ms. Nancy. Am so glad you enjoyed ma’am. Thank you also for the prayers; your words caused me to stop and offer a prayer of healing for the many wounded (some might say lame) Christians in churches all around the world today. God’s blessings.

  10. I like your term, “selective Christianity.” A new idea for me to consider – how do I cause others to stumble. I’ve been guilty of the sin of partiality. Resolving to pray about this.

    Thank you for your wonderful insights.

    1. Thank you Ms. Candyce. Even when I don’t realize I’m doing it, I find myself smiling and nodding my head as someone enters the church house. How many times have I seen a new family sit in a pew and I’ll just give them a wave instead of walking over to them and introducing myself and making them feel welcomed. Those little things that I think many of us do that we don’t even realize can become a stumbling block. Thank you for your wonderful comments ma’am.

  11. We have digging varmints here, too, and sometimes we humans fall into those traps, causing a sprain or some other injury. I hope Yolanda is much better now. I’m impressed by her gentleness. You are a good “Papa” rancher for your herd. Now to your message. So much wisdom here, my friend. Like you, I worry about causing our young folks or growing Christians to stumble. I don’t think most of us realize what an impact we have on developing faith. Like you, I have seen the “seasoned” (older) Christian become so set in their ways that their actions are most definitely not Christ-like. I pray we can all do better. Thank you for this inspiring reminder.

    1. Very true Ms. Katherine. Many have not learned how to keep their eyes on Christ and not on man, so we (more) mature Christians can indeed be a stumbling block when the look to us as their example. I often remind the youngsters in my church and in my life that I’m struggling to learn to live a life devoted to Christ also; reminding them of the words of Paul in Romans 7:15 and the surrounding verses. Thank you for your encouraging words, and for the reminder that we might be an inadvertent example that someone else wrongly tries to emulate.

  12. Another interesting story from the ranch and great spiritual analogy. I’m with you on not wishing to cause anyone to stumble but instead to encourage others in their Christian walk. I pray for this in those who know me and my life and that any ways I may have unknowingly and inadvertently caused a brother or sister to stumble, they were able to get back on the right path with the power of the Holy Spirit and heavenly Father’s wisdom.

    1. Right there with you Ms. Karen. I pray that I have never caused someone to stumble intentionally, but that God send someone (if not me) to help anyone that I’ve caused to stumble. Thank you ma’am.

  13. Thank you for another meaningful and thought provoking lesson, J.D.
    I don’t want to cause a young one to stumble but I’m sure I’ve had my share of missteps.
    I pray your sweet Yolanda mends well.

  14. What a great analogy, JD. I never want to make anyone stumble in their walk with Christ. Psalm 37 is very special to me, and I love how these verses you quoted relate so well to your sweet Yolanda’s lameness. Prayers for her leg to heal quickly! Blessings, brother. P.S. Those cows sure keep you busy!

    1. Thank you Ms. Barbara. Sometimes we can cause others, and ourselves, to stumble when we’re not keeping a close watch on the path we’re walking. I sure know how I’ve caused myself to do that a time or two. I pray you never do my friend.

  15. Dealing with my mother’s sprained wrist recently, I realized how feeble and dependent we become without the use of all of our limbs and digits. Treatment and rest is the only recourse to allow healing of the body. We can’t rush it. We must endure it. Impatience does nothing but frustrate. The internal restoration makes us appreciate the little things we take for granted. God can teach valuable lessons during those times.
    Thank you for being so attentive to your bovine babies and providing such excellent care. I am amazed how you recognize and diagnose issues through mere observation. It’s just incredible how much your little ranch resembles its own little spiritual domain! You have a gift for realizing its lessons.

    1. Thank you Ms. Karen. I sometimes wonder how many lessons I’ve missed that God keeps having to teach me over and over again here at our Cross Dubya. Was so glad to learn your mama is doing so much better. Can’t wait to share some publishing news with you soon my friend. God’s blessings.

  16. It takes staying before the Lord and cultivating a tender heart to remain open and keep from getting set in our ways. This is something I’ve been thinking about lately. I remember how I viewed older folks and their traditional ways in my younger years. I think the secret is to keep in step with the Holy Spirit and let him guide and direct us.

    1. How very true Ms. Terri. I could not agree more ma’am; staying in step with the Holy Spirit and not getting out there ahead of God is a great way to keep a solid connection. Well said ma’am.

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