“Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.” (Matthew 6:9-13, King James Version 1611)
We celebrated Christmas in Orlando, before returning to the farm for some downtime. One afternoon, Bella and I walked to the equipment barn to retrieve an ATV. Along the way, a family of goats escaped the fenced-in pasture. They walked along the road as if trying to slip away unnoticed.
“Oh no Momma, Look!” Bella said pointing to the other side of the fence, where another baby goat had his head wedged in the electric fencing.
While I tried to decide which one to save first, the herd in the pasture bleated as if telling on the escapees. Our three goat guards stood alerted, and one of them Franklin this huge dog (an Anatolian Shepherd) sprinted to the fence and barked at them. Immediately, they spun around and sprinted back to the hole where they escaped. Inside the pasture, they approached Franklin before rejoining the herd. I was amazed by how they responded to his voice. They know with Franklin they are safe
The goat’s pasture is their kingdom and Franklin establishes the order and protection therein, just as we abiders in Christ live within the kingdom of God here on earth. It is within the protective barriers we can discern God’s voice the most clearly. Once we participate in activities outside God’s will, God calls us back through conviction, which we can either turn around and re-enter God’s kingdom (His will) or we can ignore and go about living in our earthly kingdom. Outside God’s will there most certainly will be dangers, attacks by the enemy, and consequences we will face for our own behaviors.
Just like the spiritual world, there are enemies on the farm. The goats enemy is the coyote. During the day, they are alone or in pairs, but under the cover of darkness, they communicate. Their yapping sounds innocent, like pups, but it’s their way of coming together for the hunt, to devour. There are nights I stand on the porch and feel surrounded by the yappers in the forest.
In the evening, the guardians settle in with the goats and disappear into the sea of them. They are a quiet and mysterious three. We often refer to Franklin as a phantom, for he will rise up on his tall legs out of the midst of the goats. Even during the day, it’s hard to spot the dogs, unless you are right up next to the pasture. They are quiet and disciplined only barking when they need to. They warn the enemy as they encroach upon the herd that they are trained to annihilate them. The guardians will put their lives on the line for their goats.
Christ sacrificed His life to give us access to His Father’s kingdom. Inside God’s will, there will also be challenges and attempted attacks by the enemy because although we are within God’s will, we are still living on earth which is enemy territory. Our power to fight the enemy’s attacks comes from our access and relationship to our three guardians- the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The longer we live in the Kingdom, we will emulate God’s character and bring the Father glory, by revealing who He is to those outside.
There are gaps in the fencing of the Kingdom as well – the gap of free will. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been known to poke my head through the hole and allow my mind to envy the green grass over yonder. There have also been times I’ve defiantly walked out of the safeguards and trotted down the lane of selfishness and disbelief towards what I thought was an adventure. Albeit, those trots have not been without consequences and only gave my enemy stockpiles of ammunition to use against me. Just as Franklin is greater in power, strength, and size than those coyotes, greater is He that is in Me, than he that is in the world. (I John 4:4)
There have been times Franklin’s behavior has been questioned. There was a day Franklin made the farmers so angry they nearly got the shotgun out to put him down. He carried a dead baby goat away from the herd and planted it who knows where. They thought he killed the baby goat. Later, they realized Franklin was only doing his job. If a kid is born dead or dies soon after birth, he carries the goat far away from the herd, outside the pasture. You see, the dead goat could have a disease that will harm the others, and the dead goat scent attracts the enemy. It is his job to send death far from the living outside the green pastures.
The Father will one day separate the living from the dead. He will separate those who choose not to enter into His kingdom when they were called, from those who chose His Lordship for their lives. This saddens me, but I’m sure not as much as it saddens God. He’s the one who feels their rejection. It is our job as His kingdom dwellers to plant grasses that will feed and encourage others to enter the pasture of the living Christ.
“Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6, English Standard Version.
Has God called you into His kingdom? He wants to grant you an abundant life, filled with peace, joy, and purpose. He wants to bring you into His pasture of rest, power, and protection.
For those who’ve already accepted grace, but have wandered outside the fences won’t you consider abiding in God’s kingdom? Keeping your head inside the safeguards from the dangerous climate that exists outside? Stop allowing your lifestyle and your message to seek the approval of man and use your words and influence for Kingdom sake?
I cannot close without admitting I often wonder how God finds me capable of raising four children. This is not false humility, but the utter truth. I often tease if any of them had fur I’d never let them leave for college. Once the herd was safe in the fence, the baby goat cried out the most pitiful sound. In a panic, I sprinted to the barn without looking back.
“Momma wait for me!” I heard Bella’s voice behind me.
“You’ll be fine. Baby goat’s in trouble!” By the time, I barged into the office shouting a goat was getting electrocuted into the ears of the farm manager, Jeff, who’s a calm and quiet cowboy, Hilario (one of the farmers) had already worked the goat out of the fence. Lucky for him, the electric fence was turned off. I smiled watching that little thing trot across the pasture towards his mother. Awe… just like Bella… Bella? Oh no, my Bella!
Bella lumbered up the driveway looking like the little brother in the Christmas story who couldn’t put his arms down, and less than happy with a Mom who’d leave her for a goat.
New Year’s Resolutions:
- Do not leave your toddler in the dust for the sake of a goat.
- Remember Bella is only three.
- Love your children as if they had fur.