Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hands AND Heart!

Yesterday I read Ann Voskamp's blog.
She talks about two Black Angus calves and how she and her daughter tried to get them to drink water from a bucket as part of the process of weaning them:
I rest my chin on the farm gate, and exhale in one long breath while two baby calves with saucer-like eyes stare back at my daughter and me. It’s a showdown. And these cows simply won’t budge. We cajole. We gently splash at the water in their five-gallon buckets. We even sing a sweet, silly tune: “Daisy, Daisy don’t be la-zyyyy! Come drink from your pail of waaaa-ter!”
But those two unyielding, black calves with wet noses simply blink long eyelashes at us.
What they say about horses is also true for cows: You can lead them to water, but you can’t make them drink.
My daughter, Lydia, wears worry on her knitted brow. Will these calves ever learn to drink from a bucket? She kneels down, swirling water in a bucket with her index finger. I rub her back.
“It’s OK, hon. We’ll try again tomorrow, all right?” I hand her an oversized bottle of milk-replacer to feed Sherbert, and I hold another bottle for Daisy.
They come to us, ravenously. I look down my arm at Lydia and reassure: “They’ll learn. They’ll wean eventually.”
............. And I can’t figure out simple tasks, like how to get a calf to drink from a bucket. Two tails twitch. Wide, begging calf eyes plead, “More.” Both bottles have been sucked dry now. Lydia and I walk up the hill, to wash up before breakfast. I turn on the faucet, and wash bottles. I rinse with water, watching it all swirl down the drain.
And it feels like a sort of inner cleansing, an act of faith, to stand here at that sink, watching dirty water drain away. It’s an inner turning, a refocusing, a flipping over.
I have to remind myself daily what I already know: Focus on the Father, not my flaws. Look to the Savior, not the self. The Messiah, not the mirror.
And this is the power of the Gospel: Water cleanses, t
hrough the Word.
But this is also true: the patient Father can lead His child to water, but He doesn’t make her drink it.He holds water out, as if in cupped hands. He bids us, come. And at the edge of this sink, I drink from those hands. I preach the Gospel from a self-pulpit. I repeat memorized Scripture, about who I am, about how I’ve been fashioned by God, created in Christ Jesus
to do good works that will bring His Kingdom glory, here-below. There is no earthly yardstick, rating system, ticker or scale to measure that sort of thing. The water runs clean, and I confess it here, to this King with open hands. I confess how I have downplayed the inventive way that He molded singular me. I can feel it now, how when I shift the focus to Truth, anxiety drains away. The Lord didn’t ask for gold-star performances in this life. He didn’t ask me to prove my significance to the world. Or to prove myself to Him. He didn’t ask me to prove anything at all. He is the One who approves, declaring us beloved while we were yet sinners. He asks now only for my heart, my willingness, my hands—even when my hands haven’t seemed all that useful.
Just then, it dawns on me. My hands. I turn off the faucet, and walk back down the hill, to two stubborn calves who won’t drink the water.
I open the creaky gate, step inside and call out for them. I kneel at the side of a five-gallon bucket, dip my hands in water, and hold those hands straight out—cupped—under the wet nose of a baby calf. And, right then, from cupped hands held out on a June morning in Iowa, a baby
learns to drink.
AND THEN is when a light came on! What a parable of life and ministry! We can stand at the bucket containing the Water of Life and we can splash and conjole and sing. All the response we may see is non-response - just waiting and watching us splash, conjole and sing. We live in a cynical world! And splash doesn't impress and never motivates ... well, mostly anyhow. The reason is that life comes with pain and loss and splash just doesn't seem like nearly enough reason to move to the Water.
We all need this Water. We even thirst for this Water but we won't go there for splash. The water in the bucket in the farmyard is only symbol. The Water we need is the same Water offered to a lonely, sad, ostracized woman beside a well at high noon in Samaria (approximately the modern day West Bank). The One offering her Water was the Savior of the World. He promised to give her water that never would run dry and always satisfy! He offered her all that she longed for in her soul and she drank deeply! (John 4:1-26)
What the calves were missing and what people are longing and waiting to find is the hands!
When Ann Voskamp dipped her hands into the bucket of cool water and lifted her cupped hands dripping with water right under the nose of the calf the calf lapped eagerly! It was the same water. It was the same bucket. It was the same two calves. It was even essentially the same time and place. The difference was the hands!
The hands weren't spashing. There was no cajoling. There was no silly singing, But there was a real live person attached to that pair of hands. It was the heart behind the hands that brought the calves. It is the heart behind the hands that brings sad, lonely, disenfranchised people to come with their aching pain to the Water of Life - Jesus!
I saw this lived out last week as I served my parents to help them and my sister. It gave me a whole new perspective on respite but more on that tomorrow! Hands are NOT enough! What matters is the heart behind the hands!

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