When my boys were little we’d play a game in the car. They’d name everything altered in nature as a consequence of sin.
“Weeds…mosquitos…thorns…animals killing each other… etc…” They’d shout from the back seat.
“Creation cries out for redemption too.” I reminded them.
I stated this to my brother-in-law, Thomas upon passing a moss heavy tree. He stated he loved the Spanish moss and found it beautiful.
“It is a parasite.” I said. “It robs the branch of air and sunshine, slowly choking the life out of it. The branch will eventually break away from the tree. Spanish moss is one of those consequences dating back to Eve’s disobedience.”
I equate it to sin. It may appear beautiful, but slowly it entangles our hearts and minds to the point we can no longer recognize the light of truth, the touch of the Holy Spirit.
Last weekend, at the farm,I thought about nature wanting to be free from the binding of sin.
In the morning, the goats bleat as the food tractor comes by. I stood on the porch to witness the chaos. The creatures stampeded Zach almost knocking him down, as he poured their food into the troughs. The many babies, all different colors followed their Momma’s and jumped excitedly, imitating the behavior they see, for they are still on the tit. I leaned over the bannister with my coffee and laugh. Jay tells me some of the babies have been trampled to death at feeding time. My laughter dissipates. Goats are no better than people I guess. How many human babies have been trampled by their parent’s greed or ambition?
There is a papa goat in the bunch. He is larger than the others, Colin likes to call him Sensei, for you can tell he is wise. He moves methodically throughout the herd and watches outside the fence, as if he is the goat’s protector.
Late morning, I stopped by the cows, as I jumped out of the ATV, the herd stared at me. I take their picture. The sun and wind flittered in their coats.The Momma cows moved closer to their calves as I approached the fence. They looked at me with those intelligent eyes as if they wanted to receive my affections, but knew of the unseen barrier between us, tearing it down would only bring us heartbreak.
I recall a passage in Isaiah, “The cow will graze near the bear. The cub and the calf will lie down together. The lion will eat hay like a cow.” (Isaiah 11:7) One day, cows will receive affection from man, for now they yearn to be free from the duty of provision and returned to the perfection of God’s ultimate plan.
It is no secret the horses are my passion. A passion born in my youth on hot Saturday afternoons. I’d hear the ring master’s voice over a loud speaker echo through my yard. I rode my bike to the stables to watch the horses circle the ring. It was not a place I was treated well by the spectators.
My sister once asked me, “Why do you go there, the people are so mean and snobby?” I didn’t care, I was mesmerized by the fancy horses and their prancing. Compared to the girls riding, I looked a mess, I had stringy blonde hair, a dirt smeared face, and was sweaty from playing outside all day. I enviously watched the girls in the riding attire moving fluidly with their shiny steeds.
Yesterday, I remembered the feeling as I drove up to the horse pasture. There are five horses on the farm, who see themselves as Golden-doodles, unaware of their strength and size, they crowded me against the fence, and I shoved them back. The sight of a halter slung over my shoulder began their restless circling, for they’ve been released to their wild nature far too long. I approached the one I wanted and she turned in the other direction.
I kneeled to appear less threatening. “Sugar… Come here Sugar.” I said softly. “I’m just going to give you a bath.”She slipped her head into the tool of submission, as if she understood. There is healing in washing a horse. I worked the lather into her coat and rinsed away the dirt and grime, the water flowed down her muscular flank. Once the oils and dirt encrusted in her coat are removed her true color appeared in the sunlight…sleek and shiny. She became new, while I wore the dirt on me. I worked through the tangles of her mane and tail, sometimes having to tug hard to release the knot.
I gave her carrots as a treat. She gobbled them up greedily. The soft of her muzzle tickled my hand, I couldn’t resist the sweetness of it, I kissed her and drank in her smell.
We walked through the breezeway of the barn, she called to the herd. They met us at the gate. I attempted to remove her halter, but the alpha-female named Zoe, chose at that moment to bite another in the rear, which started a frenzy.
I am slammed against the fence and Sugar now spooked, turned to run. I snatched the lead line and dug my heals in, determined not to let her go. Her eyes turn wild as the other horses circled around, tempting her to drag me.
She stomped her front legs and thrashed her head back and forth, but my will was stronger.
“Sugar, I have you! Come back.” I remembered to calm my voice, while she remembered the gentle touch of my hand. The wild white of her eyes disappeared, as I pulled her close. She trusted again. Once her halter was removed, she stood free, but reluctant to leave my side.
For a moment I brushed my face against her muzzle before pointing across the paddock to the others.
“Go!” I said. She obeyed and turned to join them.
I sprinkled carrots around their trough, hoping they’d each get a few. Sugar watched me from afar. As I drove away, she was eating the carrots alone.
The spirituality of the experience was not lost on me, for God loves me like that. He saw this dirty, country girl leaning against the bleachers longing to be clean and wearing fancy clothes and riding prancing horses.
He invited me into his shade, washed and brushed my tangled life, took the dirt upon Himself, and left me shiny and new. He didn’t let me go when I gave into temptations. He held the reins when I tried to buck and run. His will was stronger than my own. He told me to “Go”, go and tell others what He has done for me. There is peace and blessings at the trough of the Savior.
Though nature is crying out for redemption, crying out for God’s perfection, it beckons us to witness the Great I Am as well. Nature demands us to lean in, watch, and listen to the message of a Savior, to look past the creation in order to praise the great Creator. When is the last time you looked beyond a herd? Past the Spanish moss blowing in the breeze?