Is the wild ox willing to serve you? Will it spend the night at your crib? Can you tie it in the furrow with ropes, or will it harrow the valleys after you? Job 39:9-10 NRSV
The King James translation refers to a unicorn. I’ve never tended to a unicorn, or an ox for that matter. But, as a child I did care for several goats.
We raised these delightfully ornery creatures for their milk. When I was seven or eight it became my job to take the goats each day to a nearby pasture. I would “lead” them one by one with a rope halter across our neighbor’s cinder parking lot.
Often this trip involved me being drug, face first, across that lot. And, the neighbors frequently enjoyed the Benny Hill antics of me chasing a goat in circles. I was head-butted, scuffed up, and humiliated – repeatedly – by our endearing, obstinate dairy goats.
Most of us have a few goats in our lives – situations that leave us a little hot in the face, bruised and humbled. When these experiences happen, it’s a very human reaction for us to wonder what we did to deserve such treatment, or why God allowed such-and-such to happen to us.
God doesn’t send us goats because the Almighty delights in seeing us knocked down. But, to hear and heed God’s will, we do need to be humbled from time to time. We need the experience of the goat – or ox, or unicorn if you’ve got one – to remind us we’re not in control. When we surrender the hot-headed desire to bend everything to our will, we make way for ourselves to instead be bent into God’s will.
We know from Matthew “those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Sometimes we need help aligning our priorities. Sometimes we need help finding humility, so we may be exalted in the Spirit to God. And, when we require that help, God has just the goat we need.
Lord, grant us the humility we need to hear your voice, and feel your spirit moving in and through our lives. Help us to see your benevolent will in all we encounter, and to grow closer to you in each experience of this life. Amen.