Wednesday, July 04, 2012

A Moooving Tale

There have been a few times that I've felt like a cow.


Once, I tried a piece of turkey jerky ... say that four times really fast. It's so fun! Anyway, I was chewing and chewing and starting to gross out at the texture of gum coupled with the flavor of teriyaki. I felt like I was chewing my cud.

Also, there are the memories of surgeries. The part where I'm still awake, but numb from the chest down. Nurses are transitioning me to the O.R. gurney. I'd love to help the group effort by lifting my legs or scooching my hips. But alas, I am forced to lie there in a sheet sling as they hoist me onto the second surface. Not a very light and airy feeling. I felt like a beefed out cow slung in the straps of the slaughter house.

And let us not forget my first job as a university admissions counselor. We were constantly stressing about how many students we were recruiting and how many we were retaining. "Produce! Produce! Produce!" My colleagues and I would mock. I felt like a jersey cow.

Speaking of milk cows ...

Nope. We'd better save that for another blog:)

Well, my latest bovine-sympathy moment was last week. Philip and I traveled as chaperones with our church's youth choir to Florida. Amid the rehearsals and missions projects, we were able to spend one afternoon at Universal Studios. We marched in the front gates and moved directly to the tallest roller coaster we could find.

Once we received the "loose articles" speech and had our height verified, it was a long, slow wait. We stood and chatted, took a few steps, paused, leaned against the railing and chatted some more. Everyone who was waiting to ride formed a giant snake - shifting in slow motion, advancing up one row and down the adjacent one. Back and forth. We passed the same people again and again. We took several steps, but didn't feel any closer to the entrance. I felt like we were cattle being herded into holding pins.

At one point, as our group of friends stood in the center of a chained-off area, I scanned the horizon. We were surrounded by hundreds of people, facing every direction, but slowly, calmly, collectively moving toward the same door. It was a wee bit frightening. I felt trapped. I thought, "What if I want to get out?" Tough question. The easiest answer involved precision timing, ducking, leaping, and going against the current of the crowd ... for a long time.

I instantly had a vision of the complicating entrapments of sin. Unsuspecting crowds walking and talking, being silently guided by the maze of stakes and chains. Droves of people, content to literally follow the crowd. Our momentum being determined by groups of riders who arrive at the end of the line somewhere ahead of us.

Then, as my daydream mixed with reality, I wondered if there was an escape route in case of emergency. I looked down at the end of our row. The chain that kept the masses contained only seemed secure. Careful inspection revealsedthat it was really just an s-hook hanging on the eye of a post. I imagined Jesus standing there, and I am pushing my way toward Him. Then as our eyes meet, He releases the chain and motions for me to follow Him. He flows through the crowd, parting waters, and I cling to Him in His wake. Like a calf led to safe pasture. His child rescued from sin.

Eventually, my thoughts crashed back into real time with a click and a clack and a "this way, Ma'am." I hugged the harness, closed my eyes, and screamed my head off for 97 seconds. God's care for roller coaster riders will be the content of yet another post, I'm sure.

But let me take just one more comfort from my recurring cow identity crisis. At the end of the book of Jonah, when Jonah is pouting and grieving his withered plant, he throws a tantrum because God is indeed merciful toward Nineveh. Look how God responds!

And the LORD said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” Jonah 4

See? God cares for cattle. And God cares for people even more! Next time you see a cow, or read a barn book about a cow, or the next time you feel like a cow ... swimsuit season, anyone? ... smile and remember, [chew on this]: God loves you!