I meant to be productive.
I had gotten up at a reasonable hour and was seated at my writing desk ready to go. I intended to continue writing more on my current project-a study booklet about the life of Job. I had plans and creative ideas to get down on paper. I had good intentions. Really I did.
However, I got a little bit distracted and allowed a quick peak at Facebook. I remember thinking, “Just five minutes. I’ll see what’s happening in the world, and then I’ll get down to the business of writing.”
Well, I did check my newsfeed for about five minutes; I stuck to my plan. But then there was that video I had to watch: “Terrifying Things You Won’t Believe Are Down at the Bottom of the Sea,” and that led to another one: “The Twenty Most Botched Plastic Surgeries.” And then before I knew what had happened, there I was watching “Doctor extracts the Longest Ingrown Whisker Ever.”
That’s when I saw it—the advertisement for cattle chutes.
I had never heard the term “cattle chute” before, and I imagined for a few moments some sort of luxurious all-inclusive cattle resorts with massage barns, lazy rivers, and water parks with fancy cattle chutes for the cows to slide down. Could there be such a thing?
I examined the ad more carefully. It advertised ranching implements and accessories.
Let me make it clear that I don’t have any associations with farming, ranching, horses, or cows. I don’t live on a farm, nor do I ride horses or show any kind of animals. I’ve never made a farm or livestock-oriented purchase (unless you count the Horseopoly game and horse books I purchased at Christmas for my horse-loving granddaughters).
Why an advertisement for livestock equipment would appear in my Facebook newsfeed I don’t know, so I got snookered into taking a look.
An hour or so later, I still wasn’t writing. Instead, I was reading about handling large bovines, and I was fairly engrossed in what I was learning.
Part of raising cattle involves getting very close to them, and every farmer knows this can be dangerous. After all, any animal that outweighs you by several hundred pounds, or even a thousand, can do great harm quickly.
With a piece of equipment called a cattle squeeze or cattle chute, you can handle the cow while keeping everyone safe. The chutes remind me of some sort of mechanical closet that safely secures a cow. The chutes have levers and sliding panels and are operated by a handler.
Farmers need to put cattle in chutes for many reasons—for branding, vaccinating, applying ear tags, and testing for pregnancy. The chutes can also hold show cows during washing and grooming.
I wondered how they get that massive animal to willingly go into the chute. You can’t just push these massive animals around. After reading further, I learned that accessories like sweep tubs, panels, gates, and alleys help corral the cattle into the chutes.
Ah, I see. Starting way back in the cattle pen, the cattle are gradually herded into smaller and smaller containment areas until they’re funneled into the cattle chute, the one-cow containment unit allowing the handler to tend directly to that cow’s needs.
Once the cattle are in the chutes, handling them becomes manageable, efficient, and safe. The squeeze chute provides what the cows need, even if it’s not what they want or think they need.
And this is the moment I realized I’m a lot like a cow.
Perhaps God sometimes herds me into a “squeeze chute” because He knows I won’t take my “medicine” on my own.
Sometimes I get a beaming bright breakthrough of clarity—God has allowed everything I’ve experienced in my life to draw me closer to Him. He’s willing to squeeze me into the hard places I need to be in to help me trust Him more.
We all need to enter the narrow “chute” of coming to see ourselves as hopeless sinners before we can begin to appreciate what Jesus has done for us and allow him to gracefully, gently, change our lives.
A great example is the Old Testament patriarch, Job. It’s likely that all Job went through, including the insensitive lecturing by his friends, pushed him down the “chute” to ultimately hear God speak.