Ornery Cows and Longsuffering

by Glen Young
via The Pound Proclaimer; Dec., 2007; Vol. III, No. 2

Once, when I was growing up, my dad traded a hog for a cow. I didn’t think at the time it was a very good trade. The old cow suffered from what was called ‘holler horn’ and besides, I did not relish the chore of milking. Now, ‘holler horn’ is caused when some one dehorns a cow and doesn’t take proper care. The holes then become infected.

I learned two things about that old cow. One, she had her horns removed for a reason. She suffered from what modern psychologists would call anti-social behavior. Two, she was suffering from hollow belly as much as she was from ‘holler horn.’ Now the second thing I had learned caused me to feel sympathy for her. The first thing, however, tended to try my patience.

When we milked, we put out feed for the cow to eat. She could eat faster than a famished teenage boy. When she finished, she would run away. If you tied her with a rope, she would jump back and forth, either kicking over the bucket of milk or sticking her foot in it. You would have to milk with one hand and protect the bucket with the other. There was no way to milk her without all of the hassle. I would milk franticly but could not for the life of me finish before she began her cantankerous goings on.

One cold north Alabama morning, I decided I was going to finish milking that ornery old cow if it killed her. And further more, she was not going to ruin the milk by knocking it over or sticking her foot in it. I had about three-fourths of the milking done when she finished eating. She began her little dance while I did my best to milk her and protect the milk bucket at the same time. I decided she needed to know who was boss around here. I doubled up my fist and chose the soft spot between the rib cage and the hip, then let fly with all the strength I could muster.

Did I mention it was a cold morning and that I was wearing a nice sturdy denim jacket? When I connected with her, my fist sunk into her gut. Well sir, instead of quieting down like I thought she would or at least move away from me, she jumped on top of me. This knocked me to the ground, at which point she proceeded to stick her right hind foot down inside the front of my jacket penning me to the ground.

As I surveyed the situation from my vantage point, I decided I had made a big mistake. The milk was spilled and I was at the mercy of that old cow. Luckily, she decided to let me up, once she decided I was the boss.

As I think of the lesson I learned on that cold Alabama morning, I think of what the Lord teaches us about our dealings with one another and how we need to learn longsuffering. "Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive" (Colossians 3:12-13).

I have, on many occasions, been guilty of dealing with situations without practicing longsuffering. When longsuffering is missing, the efforts at teaching, reproving and rebuking will illicit the same kind of counter action I experienced from that old ornery cow. How often would a brother or sister have heeded our admonition, if we had not doubled up our spiritual fist and let them ‘have it’ but good? Brethren are stubborn and ornery and in need of a lesson at times. However, giving them a swift kick in their spiritual pants may not be what they need.

Even in the face of sin, we are to practice longsuffering. Listen to the words of Paul, "and we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, and be patient with them all" (I Thessalonians 5:14). Least we think it un-Christian to be longsuffering with the erring, consider our personal condition before the Lord. "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance" (II Peter 3:9).

The next time your patience wears thin with your brethren and you want to grab hold of one of them and shake them till their teeth rattle, think about a teenage boy, an old ornery cow and a cold north Alabama morning.