By Patrick Hawthorne
I love how the Holy Spirit works. It never fails that when I ask the Holy Spirit to give me a topic to write He always comes through. Mostly, I love the uniqueness and simplicity by which He reveals things to me.
The other day, as I was feeding the “Critters,” (which consist of five pigs, eighteen chickens, one duck, and three goats,) the Lord spoke to my heart and said to write about the goats. Initially I blew off the suggestion as an overactive imagination. Yet, the Holy Spirit remained persistent. When I conceded that it was not my imagination, I prayed and asked the Lord what He meant. After all, what kind of message could I write about concerning goats? “Goats stink…”The end? No, I needed a little bit more information than that.
In answer to my prayer, the Holy Spirit showed me my three male goats, Billy, Bob, and Thorton, (I have to give my wife kudos for coming up with such ingenious names.) We have only had these goats for a couple of weeks, so it is understandable that they are still a little skittish around me. However, they are now to the point where they are allowing me to pet them a bit.
As I thought about these goats, the Lord placed on my heart a couple of issues. First, He showed me how I’m mindful to gently approach the goats each time I go to feed them. This is to allow them time to adjust to me. Had I been overly assertive and hostile towards them then my attitude would have only served to justify their fear of me but not gain their trust in me. Is this type aggressiveness how many perceive our loving Father? I believe it is.
We are instructed to trust the Lord with all our heart (Proverbs 3:5), yet how can we do this if we are walking in fear of Him? I don’t believe we can. Therefore, what I believe the Lord was showing me is the gentleness of His nature in dealing with us. Fear will never attract faith, but love ushers in total trust.
The second thing the Lord showed me is how we (Christian’s) can maneuver ourselves away from the blessings and provisions of God. To illustrate this, the other day one of the goats made a mad dash to escape from the pen as I opened the gate to feed them. The goat, knowing that I had the provision, i.e., the food, intentionally left the area of safety and provision prepared for him in order to explore the world around him. Yet, instead of totally wandering off, he stayed just close enough to the pen to where he could see me provide for the other two goats. He was walking the line, so to speak.
It was obvious that the goat wanted the food. For him to receive of the provision was simplicity in the making. All he had to do was to walk back through the open gate right beside him. Yet, he chose another method. Instead of entering the gate, he went to the side of the pen and tried to butt his way through the fence. He knew that what I had was good for him, yet he was trying to get to it by his own means and methods. In response, I had to go outside and gently lead him back to the place of safety and provision.
Just as I was unable to provide for the goat according to his terms, our Heavenly Father is unable to bless us according to our terms. It is not because He is being spiteful, but because He knows that our only safe haven is the place He has prepared for us.
From my ponderings in the goat pen, the Lord was able to convey certain life lesson that will help me live a better life. I’m just curious to see what insight He brings from the pig pen. Be blessed!