Following my post Seeking the Lost, I received the following story from good friend and retired pastor Bob McFarland, who is an occasional guest author on Gentle Reformation. We have communicated at times with one another over the fact that he and his wife, Georgia, also had a pet dog named Oscar, though their Oscar sadly passed away earlier this year. These situations prompted Bob to share the following anecdote with me, which was too good not to share with others.
We enjoy visiting our youngest daughter, Nancy, who with her husband, Norman, have a large dairy farm in Northern Ireland. One night several years ago, Georgia and I offered to baby sit the young children so they could have a night out. I jokingly said I would babysit the cows while Georgia did the same for the five grandchildren, who were ten years old and younger.
But as Norman left he said, “One cow is in the pen and may give birth before we get home from our evening out!” I carelessly thought, “That’s fine, they could all give birth if they want to!” But my ten year old granddaughter, Emmaline, knew he meant you, Papa, may have to go out to the barn to assist delivery!
For a little while later, Emmaline came in from the barn having checked the progress of the birth. She announced in front of the family playing board games, “Papa, you are needed out in the barn. Now!” With a loud “Yahoo!” we all headed out to the barn!
By flashlight and dim lights, the cool Irish evening showed me that the birthing process had come to a stop. With the four grandkids behind the fence, eyes wide open, I climbed in with Emmaline to “help” the mother cow. (I should add, the closest I had been to a calf being born was from a car window, about 20 yards away from the birth on a Kansas farm.)
Several lessons were learned by Pastor Papa that evening.
1. Always be willing to help those in need, even though you are quite comfortable beside the Irish fireplace.
2. Be ready to learn from the younger generation. Emmaline said, “You will have to pull the calf out.”
3. Spiritual leaders must learn how to do new things: “Just grasp the two front hoofs and pull, Papa! Be sure to wrap the hoof in strips of burlap, so you don’t slip off!”
4. A calf must be “borned”—he has no power in himself. The calf, like us, is totally dead/helpless so far as causing birth.
5. The pulling was successful. When help comes from above, God’s power in the new birth is essential to being born eternally.
6. Emmaline helped the wobbly calf to his feet and to its mother. Likewise, we must help the new born Christian to find the source of food (church and the Bible)
7. The gang of four grandchildren watching gave a loud cheer for Papa! There is rejoicing in Heaven over one soul that is born.
So much for my lessons learned from helping my first calf to be born.