In a similar practice, the Ancient Israelites were instructed by the Lord to let the land rest every seven years, so it would not be depleted of all its minerals.
I pondered these things this week as I took note of my neighbor moving his cows from one pasture to another. Granted, he is a beef farmer and not a crop farmer. But the cattle he raises are utterly dependent upon the grass and hay each of his pastures produces. For this reason, he regularly moves his herds from one location to another. Otherwise, he runs the risk of having a given pasture overgrazed.
As I was out walking one morning this week, he was busy loading his cows for transport from one location to another. The process is fairly simple. He gets them into a barn and then loads them onto a lowboy trailer before transporting them on to the new location. Of course, the trick is to get them into the barn and/or corral.
He usually does this by luring them there with the promise of some reward. Usually, the offer of corn or sweet feed is sufficient to bring them in. Once in the enclosure, it is not difficult to walk them up the plank into the trailer.
And yet, even then, some refuse to cooperate. When this happens, he is not deterred. If they cannot be enticed to enter the trailer, he will resort to other measures. Among these is a cattle prod - a handheld device commonly used to make cattle or other livestock move by striking or poking them.
And if that fails, he makes use of a “hot stick”, which is an electric cattle prod with electrodes on the end which employs a relatively high-voltage, but low-current electric shock. This is typically all it takes to make even the most uncooperative of cattle decide to get going and load up.
As I have studied on this, I have been reminded that Jesus refers to Himself in the New Testament Gospel of John as the Good Shepherd. Of course, as the term indicates, a “shepherd” is one who “herds sheep” as opposed to cattle; but the principle is the same. Jesus tells us that His sheep hear his voice and He leads them.
But even sheep can be uncooperative at times. And there is no better example than in the New Testament Book of Acts, chapter 26, the apostle Paul recounts the events of Acts 9 to King Agrippa, and says that the Lord said to him: "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks."
The International Standard version translates this verse as: "Saul, Saul! Why are you persecuting me? It is hurting you to keep on kicking against the cattle prods."
Clearly, God had a purpose and a divine will for the life of the Apostle Paul. But Paul was resisting that will. And for this reason, God had increase the pressure on him in order to help him see the direction God wanted him to go.
As I reflect on my own life, I can see that there were times when I gladly followed the Lord and His will for my life. But there were also times when I was not quite as amenable. All I can say is that I am thankful that when those times arose that I was hesitant, or even outright resistant to the will of God, He did not give up on me. Instead, He simply increased the pressure until I surrendered to His will.
Looking back on my life and the various paths I have travelled, I can now see the hand of God at work. It has been said that is often easier to trace the hand of God and His involvement in our lives in retrospect than it is at the present time. I understand that now more than ever.
And I am also more thankful now than ever for God’s persistence. Whether he lured me (as He did for the most part) or whether He prodded me (as He did on occasion), I am where I now am because He directed me here. And that, my friends, is an awesome thing to ponder!
What about you? Are you being prompted by the Lord to take some uncertain step or make some uncertain move today? If so, are you resisting this? If so, let me encourage you to hear the voice of the Master and go wherever He directs.
While it may seem scary now, if it is His will for you to be there, you will certainly eventually wind up there. And you will surely be glad in the long run that you did. So, why not go willingly, and avoid the unnecessary experience of being prodded?! I assure you, the journey will be a lot more pleasant along the way!