- August 17, 2016
- Holly Paulette
There’s a farm near our house. For my agriculture-inclined husband, it’s the perfect escape from our sweet townhouse community. For me, it gives me all the happy feels of rural living without actually having to do any of that rural living stuff. I’m essentially buying time until our inevitable move to a farm one day, thankful for the HOA who mows our ten-foot-by-ten-foot lawn and for the breathtaking farmland two minutes from my front door.
Like us, our foster son is a big, big fan of the farm. In particular, the cows.
There are probably 50 head of cattle on this farm (I had to ask my farmer husband for correct terminology), but this summer, we haven’t seen the cows much. Something about heat and barns and fences and healthy cows and all that. We’ve been telling our little guy that the cows are on vacation at the beach. Naturally.
But a couple times a week after dinner, as the night cools a bit, we head to the farm to walk its perimeter. And each trip, we seek out those cows, hoping they’ll be back from their lush vacation to the barn. And each trip, they’re nowhere to be found, leaving one disappointed four-year-old and two adults who don’t really care too much.
But that little boy calls out for the cows (yelling moo, of course), walks where we saw them last before their trip, and sulks away. The cows have always been in the main field, usually lingering near the fence, and they’re not there now.
The other morning, I went for a run on that same trail. As I ran past our normal route and farther down the path, I smelled that familiar scent—you know the one. For the first time in my life, I sped up my typically-slow pace to a less-slow pace to seek out some livestock.
Hiding under some trees in another pasture were our beloved, smelly cows, just around the corner from our typical path. The cows we so searched for were there—just in a different location than we normally saw them.
Sometimes looking for God feels a bit like that, doesn’t it?
We’ve been in a tough season—foster care, adoption, expectations, failures, lack of control, uncertainty, and a whole lot of hurting. I so want to say that it’s been full of Come-To-Jesus moments, that my faith has grown stronger, that my trust in God’s sovereignty is at an all-time high. But it’s not. To be honest, not even close.
I feel like I’m searching for God like our little guy searches for the cows—in all the normal places, in the places He’s showed up in the past, in the places I’m comfortable with. I’m trying to look to the Bible like I’ve always done but feel so numb to the scriptures that once brought peace. I’m trying to pray, but it feels scripted and unnatural. I’m trying to remember His promises, but they feel tested right now.
I’m simply stopping before I find Him because He’s out of my comfort zone—out of my little faith. It’s hard, and I’m not trying hard enough. There’s a lot of laziness and a little bit of bitterness and no doubt a whole bunch of apathy.
I’m seeking out God where I want to find Him, and He’s not there.
Oh but He’s so very present. He’s around the corner, in the unpredictable places—like in phone conversations I was dreading, on a paddleboard in the middle of a lake, in desperate and constant Psalm 23 prayers, at the dinner table on a typical Tuesday night, in a Bible study that resurfaced from five years ago, in 5:30 a.m. alarms, new routines, extended lunch breaks, pauses from my norm.
I desperately want Him. Yes, I want to feel comfort. I want the hurt to stop. I want questions answered and expectations to be met. But more than that, I just want Him. And I think I’m finally willing to take the longer route. To find Him in new places, to understand Him when He feels mysterious, to trust He knows me.
Here’s to cows in new pastures and Jesus in new places.