Is Something Nipping At Your Heels?

On a raw winter day during calving season a year or so ago, the Preacher and I visited some rancher friends. “Come out and see the babies,” Diane said.

Inside the maternity barn, our breath wreathed around our mouths. We walked down the wide center aisle between stalls pungent with manure and fresh hay. Inside each was a mother and an offspring.

Diane pointed to the first stall inside the door. “That one was born just a few minutes ago.” The black calf, still sheathed in amniotic fluid, lay in a pool of afterbirth, eyes shut, barely moving. Its mother hovered, her hooves dangerously close to its head. She shoved its little body this way and that—rather rudely, I thought. And said so.

Diane laughed. “She’s trying to get it up,” she explained. “If a calf doesn’t stand within the first hour, it may not survive. It’ll likely be fine, but I’ll keep an eye on it.” Keeping an eye, at that ranch, includes technology. A closed circuit television camera monitors the maternity ward.

It seemed these tiny wide-eyed creatures should take forever to grow. But less than a year later, we paid another visit to Bar C Ranch. “Come out and see those babies,” Diane said.

Several dozen hefty cattle eyed the Preacher and me suspiciously and backed away as we entered their pen. They’d grown almost as big as their mothers now. Not as calm, though. Suddenly spooked, they charged forward into another pen.

Diane sighed. “They weren’t supposed to do that.” She looked around. “Bring ‘em back,” she ordered their two dogs.

Both dogs leapt into eager action. Responding to Diane’s every command, they dashed about collecting strays, finally clustering the entire herd in a clump. As one, they shuffled forward, trying to escape the dogs.

Just short of returning through the same gate, they stopped, and went into a bovine huddle. There they stood, glaring at us, clearly upset at the invasion of their space.

The dogs were dangerously near to heel-nipping now. Bottlenecked and crowded, the spooked cattle shoved each other and bawled. Finally one bold one squeezed to the front of the huddle.

I could almost hear his thoughts. “Well, boys, this was cozy while it lasted. But it t’aint fun no more. Don’t know what’s gonna happen out there, but it’s gotta be better ‘n this. I’m goin’ for it.”  

He charged through the gate and thundered past us, not even glancing our way, still bawling. “If ya don’t look, they won’t know you’re there,” I heard, quite clearly.

Sure enough, the rest followed. But rather than something to fear, they found precisely what they needed—space, ample bedding, and safety.

The dogs had done their job well.

Is something nipping at your heels? A thousand little incidents, all lining up, gradually steering you in a direction you haven’t chosen?

Next time you feel the nips, pray. Then move toward your fear. God may be leading you precisely where he wants you.