Friday, September 6, 2019
I am so thankful for the time growing up living in a rural farm community. There’s something about the farm that captivates my heart. As I drive through our scenic state my heart is most often moved by the sight of a farmhouse with outbuildings nestled into a grove of trees surrounded by rolling hills of pasture and cropland. It brings a peace to me that only being on the water in a boat or in a tree stand can rival.
One of the visual images I have in my mind from some days on the farm in North Dakota is a scene that involves young calves. They have been penned up overnight in a small enclosure with adequate room to move and find water, but with not enough space to run and jump as calves love to do.
I arrived at the farm at dawn to help my friend move the calves to pasture. We re-positioned all the gates of the feed lot so that the calves would be funneled to the wide-open spaces of the pasture. The funnel was intentionally narrow to control the calves’ behavior. At the final gate, we did not have to coax them to go through the opening.
They proceeded quickly through the one-hundred-yard passageway, generating more speed with every step that drew them closer to what they considered to be freedom. They had done this before, and knew that very soon, in comparison to where they had been, there would be no more restrictions. Within five steps on exiting the last gate every calf started jumping and running and twisting and turning and leaping. They were exuberant. FREEDOM! That word exploded from every release of energy every calf made.
That is the picture that came to my mind this morning as I read the words of Psalm 119:143.
Trouble and anguish have found me out, but your commandments are my delight.
What brought that picture to my mind was a verse used by Charles Spurgeon today in my daily promise devotional called Faith’s Checkbook. The verse is found in Malachi 4:2, and it says,
But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.
Sometimes, and probably more often than not, we feel like those calves penned up in a stall. The troubles of life have us caged in. We are being nourished just enough to stay alive, but we are far from feeling free enough to leap for joy. But as we begin to recall the previous experiences of freedom found in the commandments of the Lord, the light of dawn begins to appear. Hope rises in our hearts when we hear the sound of Heaven’s voices coming from the mansion on top of the hill. The Son of Righteousness has risen, and He is coming to open the gates.
We quiver with anticipation as each promise and command of our soul’s Farmer is remembered. We delight in each one as they produce the sound of creaking and clanging as the gates swing open. Then, at last, the Master stands at the final gate that has locked us in, and with one word of permission he sets us free. We can see a passageway to the pasture where we can be fed again. We move towards it, not caring any longer that our movements are still restricted by the same barriers that seconds earlier had penned us in. There is now an opening in the cage, and our hearts and minds are fixed on making our way to it.
When the last barrier has been removed, we begin to leap for joy. We run and don’t get weary. We jump and don’t get injured. We have been released into the great pasture of God’s promises. FREEDOM! That word explodes from every part of our lives as we move about in the spaciousness of God’s grace.
Whatever has you penned up today, there is hope for freedom in the commandments and promises of God. The Son of Righteousness shall rise with healing in His wings, and you will soon go out leaping for joy if you pass through the gates He is opening.