Once as my husband prepared to leave for work, our then six year old admonished him to watch out for cattle. We live in a small town and my husband drives through an industrial parkway on his four minute drive to work. A cow in the road on the way to his office would be highly unexpected – something we are pretty sure he will never encounter. ‘Watch out for deer’ is a much more useful reminder as my darling sees those almost daily, even in town. We laughed about it, but as usual it came back to my mind later attached to all sorts of interesting spiritual implications. Do let me share!
Because experience has taught us that deer are out there and that there are more of them at certain times of the day and year, most of us are watchful while driving. We expect the deer. With this in mind, let’s think of the ‘deer’ as expected sins that we encounter on our spiritual road. Anger towards our children, selfishness, gossip, and laziness are on the short list of expected sins that distract us from the path in front of us. Others might be the lack of self control with food or being impatient. We all deal with these expected sins, usually recognizing when we are being tempted and hopefully working to avoid them.
Cows, on the other hand, are the sins we are not really watching for. We are not expecting to be tempted to have an extramarital affair or start drinking to get through a day of homeschooling. Most of us would say that those things would never happen to us. We might think we would never be as offended with a person as to hate them, or have built up our character in our minds to a level that we think we are immune to struggling with jealousy, extreme excess, or a snarky attitude.
I have hit some cows in my lifetime. There I was driving down my spiritual road, comfortable in my polished Christian car, when WHAM! a large Jersey bovine jumped out from nowhere. Because I was not actively watching for anything more than the expected deer I was completely surprised by the cow.
Psalm 119:104-105 says, “Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
The Word of God is our light. When we are faithfully studying and meditating on the Scriptures we have the light we need to see the expected and the unexpected. His Word gives us wisdom and guidance to make it safely past any animal in our spiritual road.
Identify some potential cows in your life. Do you struggle with online gossip or nastiness when you are signed in as a faceless person? Maybe you have become too fond of over the counter pain killers with added sleep aids or struggle with lustful thoughts when watching certain television programs. Be mindful; where there is one unexpected sin, other unexpected sins are waiting to join in if the issue is not dealt with.
Jen Gorton 2010