Yesterday I had the pleasure of hearing one of the best sermons I've ever heard from a pulpit. I was visiting the services held for the residents of the care center where my dad is now being cared for because of advanced Alzheimer's disease. Mom and I and two of my children were there with Dad.
The speaker was an old rancher who apologized for his lack of experience in religious speaking and knowledge of scripture and doctrine. Instead he said he would talk about cows because that's what he knows. He said cows are a lot like people.
He told a story of when he was nearly 12 years old and assigned the responsibility of moving the herd from winter range in the valley to summer range on the mountain. He was excited to be named trail boss as his only hand was another boy a few months younger than himself. The two boys were to get the herd to a midway point where they would meet the older boy's dad who would help them finish the drive.
Eager to show his dad how good of a cowboy he could be, the young trail boss worked very hard to keep all the cows on the road and moving along perfectly. His horse was doing a lot of work and once the two boys arrived at the midpoint, the horse had worked up a lather of sweat.
As the boys ate their breakfast, brought by the dad, the cows and horses rested. Before getting started up the mountain again, the father took his son aside and told him, "Son, a good cowboy doesn't work his horse on cows that are headed in the right direction."
Our speaker said he has thought about that wisdom his entire life. He continued with the story, indicating that when they got the cows moving again, he noticed that most of them were heading in the right direction. Some would wander a little off the road. Some would take a little shortcut when the road turned.
When they arrived at the gate to the winter range, he had to ride up ahead of the herd to open the gate so the cows could go through. He opened the gate and looked back. There were about a dozen trails leading to the gate from all directions made from so many previous years. He realized that most of the cows were always going in the right direction generally and would eventually get to the gate from one direction or another.
He told us that people are like those cows and the gate is like baptism and other ordinances of the gospel. Many of us wander by the wayside, but as long as we're headed in the right direction, the Lord through His grace will help us get through the gate.
So if you're riding herd on your kids or others in your life who need to get through the gates, you ought to take it easier when they are heading in the right direction. Just follow along and keep 'em going toward the gate. The Lord will do the rest.