A professor, Dr. Matt Miller, opened class once with the scene from 1 Samuel 6 where the Ark of the Covenant is returned to Israel after being carried away by the Philistines. He brought to life verses 7-12, which otherwise might seem pretty uneventful in the broader scheme of the story.
The scene – two cows that have calved and never been yoked.
Their task – pull the Ark of the Covenant on a cart, after their calves were taken away.
As the wife of a dairy farmer, this scene immediately connected in my mind with some truths I’ve observed over the years:
Cows are not animals to be yoked. They usually are prodded, poked, or shooed from behind to get anywhere. They are not animals to be led or harnessed.
Cows are stubborn. If they don’t want to go where you want them to, they will stand in defiance, run the opposite way, or run in circles while you and a hoard of other people strategically attempt to corral them.
A mother cow whose young is taken away? She will be even more stubborn.
Not all cows are docile cows. The most stubborn cows will kick or move around in irritation in order avoid cooperation. And these 1 Samuel ladies had reasons for noncompliance – they had a full udder with no young to suckle. Ouch.
If human, these gals would be perfect candidates for a rebellious heart.
I wondered how this scene would unfold. I envisioned a wild chaotic caper worthy of many YouTube hits.
I waited for the rest of the story.
Matt expounded from scripture;
“The cows went straight toward Beth Shemesh keeping on the road…”
(Cows walking straight, while harnessed, pulling a cart? No way!).
“… Lowing all the way…”
(Well, I would, too if you took my babies away and sent me off. “Lowing” is a cow in distress!)
“They did not turn to the right or left.”
(This is completely against their nature. They should have been running in circles trying to shake the yoke and cart off of them.)
Dr. Miller taught how God can change the most unchangeable things about our nature. Our Father equips us to overcome hard things, like addictions, which may seem unchangeable given our natural state. God displayed this truth through ordinary creatures –and instead of being stubborn, noncompliant, and causing chaos, these bovines walked straight ahead, not turning to the right of left, but staying on the road.
That truth spoke to me, loud and clear. I began that day with a rebellious, obstinate heart. And while driving to school, 1 Samuel 15:22 flashed through my mind,
“To obey is better than sacrifice….for rebellion is like the sin of divination.”
And here the opening exhortation from my professor was that of rebellious, obstinate, cows being harnessed by the Lord himself.
I got the picture.
And was thankful the Lord loves us much more than livestock. If he harnessed their rebellious nature, kept them straight on the path, not allowing them to deviate, how much more will He do that for us, his children?
I decided if the Lord spoke to me twice about it, I better let Him harness my heart and set me straight. I slowly gave over the reins and allowed Him to set me in the right direction. Being yoked to Him is always the better way, even when you don’t feel like it. I’m glad, today, I said, “Change my heart.”
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 12:3