Don’t Fence Me In!!!
I was raised around farm life. Not farm life, like crops. But farm life, like cows, pigs, and horses. My Dad was a livestock auctioneer, so much of my life was formed around sale barns where you are in close proximity to all of the above. In the summer I would travel to sales where my dad was the chief operator of getting the most money out of the livestock he was selling. While he was doing that, i would work in the back of the barn, sorting cows and pigs into owners pens, so they would know which animals they had bought and could load them easily to take them to their farm. It was hectic for all who worked in the back and extremely scarey for the animals, but such is life for farm animals. From time to time my dad would buy some cows or pigs and we would take them home to our farm to “fatten up” for resale. On one such occasion I remember we had bought a huge bull and riding with him in the back of the truck was shakey at best. He was so powerful and every move he made in the back of the truck made me feel like he could turn us over at any time. I was so relieved when I saw the mailbox in front of our farm, because I knew we had made it. We backed up to an unloading platform known as a shoot and proceeded to coax the bull out of the truck into a holding pen. I had a prodding stick that was supposed to make him jump out of the truck and go down the shoot that led to the pen. When I climbed up the side of the pickup rack I noticed him glance at me with his eye and that eye got bigger when he saw me with a stick. I gathered myself atop the truck and lifted that stick and proceeded to hit him on the hind quarters, while at the same time yelling, Hah…Bull! To my surprise the bull moved and jumped in the shoot and went on down into the holding pen. I thought, “Wow, I’ve got him fooled.” I was so enamered with my newfound power that I ran after him hitting him again and again, making him move. Just about the time I got him to the gate leading into the pasture, he decided enough was enough and stopped. Of course you get the picture, I continued…. I actually continued right up to the point that I bumped into him from the back. It was about that time that I realized who had the real power….HIM! He proceeded to turn around and start coming at me, and being very scared and very nimble, I started running back up the shoot to preserve my life. I also noticed the stick was no longer in my hand, in that I had tossed it when I saw the bull turn. Mr. Bull ran all the way back up the shoot and jumped back into the truck and just stopped and stood at me. Where was I? I was on top of the truck trembling and hoping that he wouldn’t cave the cab of the truck in with me under it. As I turned around I was face to face with Mr. Bull and he just kind of looked at me as if to say, “not so tough now are you?” No stick, no bull unloaded, back to square one. As I gathered myself I could hear my dad laughing. Oh what a sight that must have been. Of course, all of this was before digital cameras and youtube, but this would have been a winner for sure. As I looked into Mr. Bull’s eyes I felt like I saw something else too. I saw raw power and determination, and it scared me to the point of respect. I proceeded to worked gently and wisely with Mr. Bull and we got him into the holding pen without having to fight him. When he stopped suddenly when I was pushing him down the shoot you could almost imagine him thinking, “Wait. I don’t have to move if I don’t want to and this 140 lb kid isn’t stronger than me.” He realized if he wanted to move he could, but if he didn’t he wouldn’t. I feel at times like I am like that bull. I go through life letting those with sticks guide me where they want to and trying to put me in a holding pen, or holding back pen. All the while never truly remembering the power God has put in my life. I just let them mold me into whatever they feel is good for them, but denying God’s power being seen in my life. I think this is the power of apathy in the world we live in. Apathy not only to keep us complacent, but apathy keeping us from using the power God has given to each of us through the Holy Spirit. Apathy that causes me to think my greatest power is denying that there is more power to be seen in my life and a false humility to ensure that I don’t stick my head too far above the crowd. I remember hearing a funny saying years ago in a comic where an eagle was eating corn in the middle of a barnyard with turkeys. The caption read “It’s hard to soar like an eagle when I’m down here on the ground with all these turkeys.” To make a difference in the world we now live in there will have to be some changes in thinking and lifestyle made to stand above it all and make a difference. In other words, we are going to have to stop being proded like Mr. Bull and realize the world cannot push me where it wants to because I’m the one with the power to control my life and that power comes from God. Mediocrity will no longer be the norm that we will rely on to make the impact God wants us to make. Weakness will be traded in for Greatness and that trade will change everything. In Isaiah 8, God spoke through the prophet to a remnant of people and when God spoke He told the people not to listen to what those around them were saying and not to be afraid. He told them to come back to the God of the Angel Armies and stop letting the world run them around and hold them back. He also told them to wait on God and when He came they would stand strong in power and would not be held back by their oppressors. There is a remnant today and that remnant wants to see God in power again through His church, but every time we start to move away from the weakness of the crowd, we let ourselves get beat back into submission. Submission to what? Submission to living a weak and apathetic life with no hope or drive. It’s time for us to realize that if we don’t want to go to the holding pen where everyone else is, it’s time to stop and turn around and face our accuser head on and let the power of God take us where He wants us to go, irregardless of what those around us say. In other words, we tell the world “Don’t fence me in!” The only thing worse than strong pride is weak faith. Weak faith will get us hemmed in so quickly to what the world wants and stop our progress from following the God of the Angel Armies. Chris Tomlin cowrote a song about this very thing and here are some of the lyrics of Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies).
You hear me when I call, You are my morning song, Though darkness fills the night, It cannot hide the light. Whom shall I fear? The chorus says, I know who goes before me, I know Who stands behind, the God of angel armies, is always by my side. The One who reigns forever He is a Friend of mine. The God angel armies, Is always by my side.
Time for Mr. Bull to be released, don’t you think? Time to stop letting the world prod us into denying the power God has given us. Time to turn around and face the one with the stick and proclaim he has no power over me and start going the other way. If we continue to believe the power of this world is more powerful than God and continue to let fear reign our lives, then we will continue to lose battle after battle, that should be won. Let God’s Word and power go before you and stand firm in His grace and you will start to see victory after victory and the remnant will grow in number and the lost will be saved. Time to stand up and say, “Don’t fence me in.” Don’t let other Christians who are sell outs define your faith and keep you from standing strong for God. It’s time to believe in the power of God again. His power is real and He goes before me, stands behind me, and is always by my side. That way when people look in your eyes, just like Mr. Bull, they will see you mean what you live and say.
The Pilgrimage continues….