November 2017
From Pastor to Pasture

But I Didn’t Mean To!

I remember so many times as my children were growing up, when they would accidently do something that seemed to me to be absolutely careless or perhaps even reckless, and all they could say was, "But, Dad, I didn’t mean to!" Even more recently, I have seen and heard the same from my grandchildren, especially Bradyn, who is 8 years old and who wants to spend every minute of every day with me.

I recently found the top of the septic tank cleanout pipe at the office had been sheared off. I knew either Lisa, my wife, had run over it with the lawn mower or Bradyn, knowing him like I do, had run over it with the four wheeler or his go-kart – even though he knew not to be driving back there.

When I asked him about it, he owned up to it (eventually), but was quick to respond, "But I didn’t mean to!"

When I asked him why he didn’t tell me about it, he said, "Because I knew I would get in trouble."

Just last week, I noticed a new dent in the garage door and the corner of the barn around the door. I also noticed orange paint at the scene – the same color as his go-kart.

When I asked him about it, he again confessed and again responded, "But I didn’t mean to! All I did was drive in too fast and I slid into it … but I didn’t mean to!"

Two weeks ago, Lisa backed into another car when she was leaving the printer’s office. This was about her fifth backing incident in the last three or four years and I have lost count of the times over the prior years.

This time, after such a history, in disbelief I asked her, "What were you thinking?"

She replied, "I don’t know, Glenn, but I didn’t mean to! It just happened."

My response through the years to my children and now to my grandchildren and to Lisa is, and has always been, "But you didn’t mean not to!!!"

There is a vast difference between doing something you didn’t mean to do – and planning to NOT do something you don’t mean to do! Think about it!

Take Lisa’s backing into ANOTHER car! It is one thing to just not be paying attention and backing up without looking behind you assuming there is nothing there. It is another thing to take the time to carefully look behind you before you get into the truck, and again in the rearview mirror before you put it in reverse – ensuring you do not hit the car or whatever is behind you! The first scenario caused her to do what she didn’t mean to do, the latter would have been an intentional plan to not do what she didn’t mean to do. That makes perfectly good sense to me and I did not mind at all telling her that!

But, to bring things a little closer to home, last week we were sorting and moving a lot of cattle from one side of the road to the other getting ready for our winter calving and feeding programs. Bordering the barn where we were loading out is a pasture where the first calf heifers are calving out. I pulled in, backed up to the chute, loaded up and then pulled out with load after load of cattle throughout the day without a second thought. Jack or Darrell was always behind me to guide me back, ensuring that I did not hit the barn on either side and we had blocked all the escape routes. We were being very careful.

Later that day, we noticed a particularly good heifer lowing for her calf (a heifer calf and one of our best so far this season). Before dark, we looked for her calf, but could not find it. That little girl was hiding good! The next morning, the mama cow was still walking the fence lowing. Something had to have happened to the calf. Jack, Darrell and Ben all searched the perimeters of the pasture with four wheelers and searched the woods and around the pond by foot, but found nothing. They even climbed up on all the hay bales looking to see if the calf may have been hiding there and gotten stuck.

There was no sign of coyote damage and we did not see any buzzard activity, but something had to have happened to the calf. It could not have just disappeared and it was too young to wander so far as to be out of range of her mother’s call. Suddenly, it dawned on Jack, because they could not find the calf anywhere else, perhaps he needed to look around the load-out area. Sure enough, that is where he found the missing calf just as dead as it could be!

At some point during the day between loads, the little heifer had crossed through the fence and hidden in the tall grass just across the fence from its mother, exactly where I had been backing the truck and trailer. Apparently, on one of the loads, I pulled out and missed the calf with the truck, but caught her just behind the shoulders with the trailer tires, breaking her back and killing her instantly. I knew baby calves often go through the fence to hide out, and even though I was driving right beside the fence where the heifers were calving, because I was in a hurry, I never thought to look for a calf there. I killed one of our best calves – but I didn’t mean to! Driving over a baby calf in calving season is a major NO, NO! It is just something that is unacceptable and there is no excuse for it! We all know to keep a special eye out for them because they hide so easily – even in the wide-open pasture.

Looking back, if I had just thought to look and had planned to avoid killing a newborn calf, I would have surely looked in the tall grass right beside the calving pasture before I drove the truck and trailer through there. I did not plan to run the calf over and kill it but I also did not plan to not run over the calf, even though I knew it was a possibility! If I had not been in such a hurry, if I had not been so task-oriented, I would have told everyone we needed to be on the lookout for baby calves that could be hidden by the grass, and we would have walked it before I drove it.

I have found that for myself, and for most Christians, falling into temptation and sin happens much the same way. In most cases, because we have been born again, we want to live our lives in a way that pleases God. Although we do not set out with a plan to sin, we do so because we do not plan to not sin! We are not ready when temptation comes our way because we have not adequately prepared ourselves for the spiritual battle we face on a daily basis.

The Bible warns us that we cannot trust our own heart and conscience. It teaches us about the schemes and tactics of the enemy who seeks not only to deceive us but to destroy us. It even tells us how to protect ourselves from the schemes of the enemy by putting on the full armor of God. We have to know the Word of God and apply it to our lives because it is our only offensive weapon. We have to know the promises of God. We must have an intimate relationship with God, walking with Him on a daily basis, and remaining close enough to Him to know and hear His voice. We have to seek His wisdom and His guidance every day in every decision. We must have accountability in every aspect of our lives. We have to keep growing in our experiential knowledge of God. We have to resist the enemy and our own selfish desires. If we neglect any of these things, we are not planning to not sin. We will inevitably find ourselves in sin, without excuse, and with nothing to say except, "But I didn’t mean to."

Concerning my neglect, saying "But I didn’t mean to" did not bring the calf I accidently killed back to life, nor did it reimburse the ministry for what she would have brought to our herd’s earning potential had she and her offspring matured and multiplied.

Concerning my sin, saying "But I didn’t mean to" to those I hurt with my sin, does not heal their hurt and does not restore my relationship with them, with myself or with God. Sin always has unintended consequences! Sin always hurts us and hurts others! Sin always divides: us from others, us from ourselves and who we want to be, and us from the right relationship with God.

But thanks be to God for His extravagant mercy and grace! He is always willing to forgive us, cleanse us and receive us back to Himself when we confess and turn away from our sin. He does not promise to remove all the consequences of our sin but He does promise to forgive us and to restore us to the right relationship with Him.

We can sin, not planning to, but our only hope to avoid sin is if we carefully plan not to!

 

Glenn Crumpler is is president of Cattle for Christ International, Inc. He can be contacted at 334-393-4700 (home), 333-4400 (mobile) or www.CattleforChrist.com.