The kids and I have been frequent library visitors lately. I should clarify frequent. We have been frequent for a loud family of 6 that lives about 30 miles from the library. I adore the fact that my kids like to read. Even my 1.5 year old will sit and let me read him a book. Mama win! (Green Eggs and Ham is his favorite). Since Seuss is a favorite author of his I picked up one that had similar illustrations. Mrs. Wow Never Wanted a Cow. by Martha Freeman. It’s also about cows so how could a person go wrong with farm animals.
The basic idea of the book is that each character of the book has a job. The cat catches the mice, the dog chases the mailman… This cat and this dog thought their jobs were pretty important but they were needing a rest so they put the cow to work catching mice and chasing the mailman. The dog and cat were convinced that because the cow was not skilled at chasing and catching she was not useful.
It’s easy for me to look in the mirror and at the people around me and say if I’m not chasing the mailman or catching the mice I’m not useful or glance at my neighbor and say go chase and go catch. Chasing and catching are what is really appreciated and useful. This happens in life and in our churches. Certain qualities, abilities, characteristics become elevated so we want us and everyone around us to exhibit those. We become tired of chasing and catching and want someone else to step up to the plate.
But what happens when we try and milk a cat? It’s an old pop culture reference but have you seen meet the parents? The fiancé, Greg, is telling stories to impress his soon to be father-in-law about how he supposedly milked a cat. Greg goes through the story, in detail, on how he milked this cat his father-in-law to replies to his story with a blank stare and the question “Greg, I have nipples, can you milk me?” It’s hilarious in all it’s awkward glory. It’s not as funny when we do it in real life to ourselves and to those around us.
It’s ridiculous how often I look to myself and what I’m supposedly doing to make myself feel better or to reassure myself that I’m doing okay. Using my own actions for that reassurance never goes well. I swing back and forth on a pendulum of butthead Pharisee with all the answers to I cant believe I don’t have my crap figured out yet. All of that swinging instead of resting. Resting in the fact that ‘everything is going to be okay’ (Thanks Virtue in the Wasteland). I can rest not because I did enough chasing, enough catching, or enough milk producing but because of the finished work of Christ.
I still wonder though about catching, chasing, and producing milk. Where does that all come from? It is there and it is necessary in our daily living. I found a great quote from Luther in a biography from him “A cow” he said does not get to heaven by giving milk, but that is what she is made for” ( ‘Here I stand’-Ronald Baiton).
We have been created by God, God created this system that we live in, and God created who you are living with and near. “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities, all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things and in him all things hold together….and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, y making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”(Col 1:16-20)
Mrs. Wow said to her cat and her dog about the cow: “She laughed at her lazy crazy pets. Don’t you know a cow can only do two things? Cows eat grass, and cows give milk. This old cow is useful.”
God created you and in that creation you were designed to do something. The important thing to remember is the cow does not get to heaven by producing milk, nor does she get a better seat by producing a lot. She was created to produce it. And the great thing about milk is it makes butter, ice cream, and cream for my coffee. Days may go by when it seems you are not producing and you would be right. YOU are not producing. God created you to produce so we can know that we will produce.
Here is a prayer from Lutheran Book of Prayer:
“Father, teach me to trust the Spirit You have breathed into me. Give me grace to believe Your word, by which I am made Your child. Help me to understand that I belong to You, even though I am undeserving of Your love.
Help me to see Your judgment and mercy in the suffering and death and resurrection of my Lord Jesus Christ. Cause me to accept again the new life in Christ which You have given me by faith. Enable me to live without despair and without pride. Lead me to know with joy that You accept me as a whole human being.
Father, teach me one more thing. Show me that in this new life You give I no longer have to build walls of fear to protect myself from others. Help me to live cheerfully and generously, so that others may receive You through Christ’s Word and work in me and begin to live in You. Bless me and keep me for Jesus’ sake. Amen.”
Here is a link to the Virtue in the Wasteland that I referenced before, enjoy!: