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Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The Parable of the Renegade Calf

Ensconced in my prayer window this morning, I saw a parable enacted out in the field before me.

Two huge tractors driven by farmers, father and son, roared up the road and parked, blocking the quiet road from either side to make a corridor between fields. Then the son zipped into the field and called and whistled until about a dozen cows and their calves paraded, in a line, to him, past him and across the road into the field of greener grass. 

I didn’t have a view of the entire field, as we sit in the middle of it, but I saw one calf break ranks and head for the far corner of the field. There was much lowing and mooing and bellowing and one of the farmers leapt into a tractor and drove at a triangular angle to the calf. I thought I would see it circle back and ‘herd’ the frightened beast from the one field to the other.

But instead the tractor disappeared round the back, and within minutes, a couple of dozen more cows, calves and the white bull came into view, moving along quite smartly in a fairly orderly line towards the son beckoning to them from the gate. The renegade calf, encouraged by the sight of more of her kind, dashed across and joined the queue headed for the other field. 

The farmer didn’t need to go after that calf on its own. He just needed to gather the rest of the herd and she happily joined in.

I said it was a parable but I feel a bit like the disciples with Jesus, asking him what it meant. Because I feel like there is deep meaning to be gleaned from this, but I’m not entirely sure I know what it is.

Could it be that some of us are like the renegade calf, refusing to join the others initially but then racing to join up when the rest of the group seemed ok with the plan? Perhaps we hesitate to follow Jesus, unsure that he is leading us to greener pastures, but when we see a ‘critical mass’ of others following we take courage and fall into line. 

Could it be a picture of God, like the farmer, who has lots of tactics for encouraging us to choose life, to choose sustenance, and will not give up on us until we make the right choice? God, like the farmer, has our welfare in mind but God, unlike the farmer, has no ulterior motives (fattening up the beasts for market) and just wants us to come into relationship with him and enjoy the benefits of tasting heaven even while living on earth. 

I will mull over this picture today and see if anything else is to be gleaned from it...

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