Friday, July 10, 2015
Download MP3 (right click to save)
At first I thought I was looking at a cow from Mars. We were driving through an area of large dairy and cattle farms when I glanced over and there just inside this barbed wire fence was a cow with a big metal ring around her neck. A rod of metal was sticking up from the top of the ring and a rod sticking down from the bottom. Well my wife grew up on a farm with cows, so she was able to help me realize that this is what she called a fence crawler.
This cow - this fence crawler - was wearing this welded yoke because she had been a bad girl. A fence crawler is a cow who keeps seeing interesting things outside the fence, and so she keeps crawling out which could lead to all kinds of problems including injury and even being killed by a vehicle. So the farmer discourages going outside the fence with barbed wire and even a contraption to make it impossible to do that. I guess you could call it tough love because he cares.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Tough Love Of God."
Our word today from the Word of God comes from the Old Testament prophet Hosea 2; a very revealing statement here from God as to how He sometimes deals with the people He loves -people who are like wandering away from Him. Maybe you know someone like that. This will give you insight into how to pray in a life-changing way, or you might even be that person and this will give you some insight into some of the frustrations you're facing right now.
Here's what God says about His ancient people. He's actually comparing them and His relationship with them to a marriage relationship. He says of those who followed Him in those days and who were wandering, and He actually quotes what they're thinking, "'I will go after my lover,' she said, 'who gave me my food, my water, my wool, my linen, my oil and my drink'. Therefore, God says, 'I will block her path with thorn bushes; I will wait here so that she cannot find her way. She will chase after her lovers but not catch them: she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now.' She has not acknowledged that I (and this is God speaking) was the one who gave her the grain."
Then He goes on to list all the good things in her life. See, this is about someone who had forgotten all the good things in her life came from a God who loves her very much. "There's something over there that will meet my need." That's what she said in this analogy. That's what we say. "God, you know, I'm just going to wander over here and check this out." Maybe it's a need for companionship or love, recognition, some material need - whatever it is we start to wander out of the fence of God's boundaries to get some need met.
We saw something we wanted but it was outside the fence. So we became one of God's fence crawlers. God's response? He said, "I'm going to put some thorn bushes in the way - a wall. You're going to chase what you're looking for, but you'll not catch it. Why? Because He loves you. He'll frustrate your attempts to meet your needs by sinning. In a sense He'll do what that farmer will do to keep his animal from going too far into the danger zone. He'll put barbed wire in your path and maybe even lay something on you that will keep you from getting away or from getting too far.
Which leads us to that life changing way to pray for someone you know who is getting away from the Lord. Pray for the thorns, the wall, an unsuccessful pursuit of sin. It's a loving prayer that asks God to frustrate that person's sin to make that wrong relationship a dead-end street; to let sin bring some corrective pain; to pray for sin to be frustrating, disappointing.
It might be Jesus' love has been pursuing you through this program. He knows why you crawled outside the fence. So do you. You thought there was something better away from Him. But it's not working. There's guilt, bad relationships, aloneness, scars. Maybe you're feeling God's barbed wire love, a little pain from your sin to keep you from a lot of pain that's down the road. This could be your day to say, "I'm going back to my Savior, because I was so much better off with Him."
Listen to your heart. That's Jesus calling you back home.