My cousin began shimmying, shook his shotgun in the air, and let out a yelp that sounded like a turkey gobble. We were walking through a section of tall grass and I was afraid a snake had bitten him. But, as I cautiously stepped closer, I saw a thin wire in a clear spot about two feet off the ground. The shock of walking into an electric fence caused his gyrations.
Several years later, I discovered what he felt like when I cut across our neighbor’s cow pasture. The electric fence that surrounded the pasture was clearly visible so I easily avoided walking into it. One spot had insulators in the three wires as a “gate”. The insulators formed a handgrip you could move from one side and hang on the other while you went through.
But, I didn’t notice one insulator was installed incorrectly. The wire wrapped around the end, as it should, but there was an extra inch or two that curled behind the handle. As I grabbed the insulator to open the gate, I touched that protruding piece, got a good jolt, and quickly dropped it. I don’t think I shimmied, but a yelp or two did escape.
An electric fence keeps animals in a pasture, most of the time. The three or four strands of wire attached to insulators on stick-like fiberglass posts, are less expensive than a full fence, and are simple to rearrange when necessary. The shock received when the animal touches the wire is usually enough to keep them contained (My cousin and I understand why.)
But, having observed the cows next door, I can say sometimes they will suffer for an instant to gain what they want. Once, I watched a calf stand before the fence, hesitate, and then walk back and forth a bit, appearing to be making a go-no go decision. Then, he stuck his head down, pushed his nose through, stretched the wires out, and walked through with a jerky motion as the intermittent jolts hit him. After coming through the other side, he shook himself from head to toe like a retriever coming out of the water, then put his head down and started munching the clump of grass that had apparently been his target outside the fence.
One night my wife, Sharon, and I heard clomping on the side porch. When I opened the door to check, two huge cow eyes stared back at me. The full-grown cow they belonged to moved toward the open door, but thankfully stopped when I yelled and slammed the door. That night the animal apparently decided to leave the pasture and meet the neighbors, no matter how painful the shock of the fence might be.
Christians are sometimes described as being like sheep, but, from those incidents, it seems we can be like cows too. God’s Word gives us boundaries, and the Holy Spirit guides us to stay within them.
Yet, like the cows, we sometimes push our way through anyway. We think we just have to get to that greener grass promised on the other side. But, rather than barreling through the boundaries, our responsibility is to take heed of the first tingle in our conscience, or especially react to the shock that makes us shimmy and yelp a bit, and turn around, and stay “inside the pasture.” After all, God’s pasture has the greenest grass and is the safest and most secure place to be.
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures…” Psalms 23:1:2 ESV
“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” Psalms 4:8 ESV