Barnyard Bartering

One of the most humbling moments in my spiritual journey was a challenge I received while observing barnyard animals. Yes, that’s right—barnyard animals. However, these are not your typical barnyard animals. Let me tell you their story.

There was a farmer who had a bunch of cows. One night, the cows decided they were cold and requested via a typed letter that the farmer provide them with electric blankets. The farmer refused to provide them with blankets and received a note from the cows the next day saying, “Sorry. We’re closed. No milk today.” The hens realized they too were cold and requested electric blankets. They were also denied and, in return, denied the farmer any eggs. The farmer was furious and demanded he receive milk and eggs. The duck, described as a “neutral party,” presented a proposal to the farmer. The cows and hens would give up the typewriter they used to write demand letters in exchange for the electric blankets. If the farmer would leave the blankets by the barn, the duck would deliver the typewriter. The farmer decided this was a good swap and agreed to their trade. The cows and hens received their blankets. However, the farmer received another note saying: “The pond is quite boring. We’d like a diving board. Sincerely, the Ducks.”

You may be asking yourself, “What in the world does this have to do with someone’s spiritual journey.” My barnyard friends in the book Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type did not initially strike me as a biblical lesson either. However, as I re-read my beloved children’s book, I began to see how much I mirrored these bartering barnyard animals. I vividly remembered so many times in the past (and even just yesterday) I had asked God to provide me with something I so deeply desired, expecting to receive it. When He didn’t provide, or if He did provide but in a fashion that was unacceptable to me, my response was to withhold my best from God, and continue to withhold until I received what it was that I wanted.

“I want a husband.” Or maybe in your case, “I want a wife.”

“I want a better job.”

“I want kids.”

“I want a house.”

“I want a fully loaded sports car.”

Maybe one of these phrases has slipped past your lips. It may not be one of these exact phrases, but I’m guessing it has a similar ring. It might be something of a more serious nature. Maybe it is a desire for a loved one to still be alive or a desire to no longer have cancer. Desire—whether trivial or life-defining—comes with an attitude of hope. No matter what it is that we desire, we hope that something will result from that desire. For someone who desires to be loved, his or her hope may be to find a spouse. For someone who desires to no longer have cancer, they might hope that it be miraculously cured. However, I believe oftentimes hope can quickly transform into expectation. No longer do we hope and patiently wait upon God to provide … we expect it to be provided our way.

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My challenge has come in recognizing that I may not get what it is I desire, and I may in fact not even need it, despite every rationale I create. The cows and hens did not need electric blankets, yet they withheld the most important thing they had to offer until they received exactly what they wanted. I continually see areas in my life where I withhold my best from God until I “get what I want.” As I continue to grow in my walk, I am amazed by how much God has and will provide for me. He continues to have His hand in my life, even when I am so blinded by my own desires that I can’t see what it is He’s given me. I am continuing to learn what it really means when God says, “Ask and it will be given unto you.” He may not provide me with electric blankets, but I couldn’t ask for a better Provider.

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