It was a crisp, clear January morning. My breath made little clouds as I unloaded the hay into the trough. The cattle, being cattle, crowded around the trough and started feeding as quickly as they could. They began pushing each other aside trying to get at the “good” hay. I stood back and watched as our cattle dug into the green, leafy goodness before them.
Then I heard a ruckus and saw two of our steers pushing each other away from the trough, each steer trying to get the other steer out of the way. Soon it became a full on pushing and shoving match between two 1,200 pound steers. As they pushed and shoved, they got further and further away from the feed trough, and the other cattle swooped in. After a long ranging struggle, they quit beefing (get it, beefing?) and tried to return to the trough.
Upon arrival at the feed trough, they found themselves on the outside looking in. The spot that they tussled for was no longer available. Instead of getting the good stuff, they were left trying to scrape fallen hay off the ground. I’m not sure if cow patties make hay taste better, but I am guessing it does not. Since that was all that was available to these two bull-headed (I crack myself up) individuals, that was all they got.
As I watched this all unfold, I wondered how many times in my life that my stubbornness and selfishness cost me the very thing I was fighting for. How many times I have been so intent on getting my way that I won the battle, but lost the war? How many blessings have I lost because I was too stubborn or selfish, and did things my way instead of God’s way? I am sure the answer would break my heart, and I am also sure the number is pretty high.
Sometimes we look at being stubborn as a good thing. “I dug my heels in, and got my way,” we say proudly. But should we be proud? I’m not talking about matters of doctrine, or patriotism. Those are matters of principle. I mean silly things like couples getting into knock down-drag out fights over things like burned toast, or going to mother’s house. I mean teenagers rebelling against their parents because, well, just because. We choose the most inane things to fight about, and worry about the consequences later, if ever.
It is in the Bible, too. Psalm 32:8,9 says, “The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”
Pharaoh was stubborn with the Israelites, and it cost Egypt dearly.
The Hebrew word for stubborn means “turned away, morally obstinate, rebellious, and backsliding.” Maybe we shouldn’t be so proud of being stubborn after all.
Jesus even had to deal with stubborn people. When he healed the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath, the Pharisees refused to see the good that Jesus did. Instead of praising him, they plotted to kill him!
Jesus is always saddened by our hard, rebellious, stubborn hearts. Mostly because he knows the hurt, pain and judgment we are bringing on ourselves because of them. Jesus promised us in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
God’s way sure sounds easier than our way.
Learning from the cattle… Jerry