I have been blessed in this season to have my daughter desiring to spend time with me as I do some farm work. Going to take care of the cows, running a track loader or a bulldozer, putting out hay. She likes to go along and learn about it all, especially where animals are concerned. When it comes to long hours in the cab of a tractor she usually gets tired and gives up, mostly out of discomfort. In those moments, deep in the woods on a mountain as I mulch trees I spend time with my daddy and his Holy Spirit speaks to me. If you are a parent you understand how he began using your kids to teach you things shortly after they arrived.
One recent day I had one such moment. I was thinking about all I want to do for the kingdom and how I just wish Daddy would tell me what to do and let me get about doing it. Then he spoke…”I just want you to want to help me.” Immediately my eyes filled with tears as I instantly was back to my daughter helping me. It’s like God put me in his shoes and Kaitlin in my shoes to show me his heart and it was such a sweet thing. In my minds eye I was taken back to a recent day when we were going to feed cows for my dad. She insisted on coming along. She loved being with me and every aspect involved in the process. But her desire was not just a come along and watch, she wanted to learn and do it. Unhooking the electric fence, counting cows, looking for new calves, getting feed scoops or opening gates and closing gates. She would reach out every so often to see one of the cows would let her touch them. There were parts she couldn’t do like carrying 5-gallon buckets of feed. But, while I carried the bucket, she grabbed a handful and put it in the feeder too. She loves feeding the cows!
After only a few days Kaitlin learned so much about doing the cows that she knew how to do it almost on her own. I still went along. I still made sure it was right. I still made up for any mistakes or misses she had but she was capable and doing it. But the revelation I received in this moment was two-fold. First, I recognized something that wasn’t taking place. Kaitlin did not come to me and say, “Daddy, what can I do to help you.” Kaitlin just joined in on what I was doing and learned it. She came along and had fun doing what her daddy was doing and from it she learned in great measure and short time how to care for 20+ cattle in multiple fields. At the same time, I never expected her to do it. I always knew it was my job but I was thrilled she came along and to be honest, having her made it SO much better. Not just easier but also more fun. I loved watching her grow, do big things, and laugh at things like cow manure on her boots or sometimes hands. We didn’t define the time as “time with daddy and Kaitlin”, but, it was just that. I loved it!
Then I had a second revelation. Kaitlin’s main motivation for coming to do cows was not really me. She loved spending time with me and making memories. She loved learning and growing. She loved that she could show me her capabilities. I think she took pride in letting me sit on the UTV while she opened the electric fence but none of this was really her motivation. Her motivation is the fact that Kaitlin LOVES animals! She wanted to know what I was doing to care for them and because she loves them she had to learn how to do it. Her love compelled her, not out of obligation, to learn how to care for them. She knew she wanted to care for them but that she needed me to do it properly. She wanted to do as much as she could trusting that I would cover her lack. Knowing I was there to cover her lack gave her a great confidence. When she first went to open the electric fence she was scared but my encouragement helped because she knows I love her and would not put her in harms way. Perfect love casts out fear! Because Daddy was there she learned everything there was to learn about taking care of the cows. To the point she almost could do it herself and it was all driven out of her love for the animals.
Suddenly, I was out of the flashback. I was now in Kaitlin’s spot as the child and he was in my spot as the father. At that moment I really teared up as I realized exactly what he was saying. God was really saying, “I don’t want to give you a job. I want you to join me in something you love because of your genuine love for people.” And just like that, with such clarity, I could see it, like an open invitation to just ride along and learn, seeking my way to help and spending time with him in the process. He is already doing the required work. He’ll encourage me when I am scared, pick up the heavy loads when I can’t and really do as much of the job as I don’t want to do all the while giving me subtle hints on ways to help out. It’s like serving in love and complete freedom!
Now, my father is back at it taking care of the cows. I am no longer involved unless he needs my help with the cows. But an interesting thing happened. The day after I stopped doing cows Kaitlin came to me and said, “Daddy, can you call grandpa and tell him he needs to come get me when he does the cows?” She loves those cows so much that she will make sure she is doing what it takes to care for them, just like her daddy taught her.
Jim lewis says
Sweet blog, true message, great teaching.