(Story written by Chuck Murphy, found in his book Christ and the Cowboy. This is a wonderful picture of how God guides us.)
A lot of snow has fallen since I found the blind calf on the rock ledge nearly thirty years ago.
I had made most of my circle starting the calves to the feedlot. It had snowed about three inches the afternoon before, with enough wind to shake it out of the trees and clear the rocks and bare ground. I had ridden out on a rocky point when I saw a lone calf on a rock ledge some three hundred yards away. I rode as close as I could, dismounted, and climbed down to where he was. He had gotten over a rounded sandstone ledge about three feet high. There was a crack in the rock that he could have gotten up if he could have found it. Downward escape would have been to fall about five feet over another rounded edge to the grass and rocks below. The space that he was trapped on was about ten feet by fifteen feet. I could see where he had licked some snow for moisture, and had eaten the few bites of coarse grass at the base of the upper ledge. He was gaunt, dehydrated, and had probably been there for two or three days. His biggest problem was that he was totally blind in both eyes.
I knew that my horse couldn’t pull him back up over the ledge, and felt the best rescue effort was for him to jump down and make his way to open ground out the bottom. As I tried to encourage him to jump, I realized that he had no idea of how far it would be, and that he would feel like he was falling off the edge of the world. I maneuvered him to the area above the least rocks and pushed him off. My heart filled with compassion as I tried to imagine the fear of falling into the unknown.
In disoriented panic he scrambled to his feet and tried to escape this monster that had pushed him into this new field of obstacles and hazards. He bumped into trees and large rocks, and stumbled over the smaller rocks and down logs.
It took me several minutes to get back to my horse and ride around the rim to where he was. He had stumbled into a more open park, and I began to talk to him. He moved away from my voice and eventually learned that he could walk slowly without falling by taking high steps. I could have roped him at this time, but his fighting the rope would have been harder on him than falling over invisible hazards. I stayed fifty to seventy-five feet away, moving wide to either side, and by keeping a constant voice reference, I was able to maneuver him out on to an open meadow with no obstacles. From there, we had to negotiate a hundred-foot wide pass in the rim.
I had switched to some cowboy songs to maintain a consistent sound, and he would move with some confidence. He soon learned that when my voice changed to words, an obstacle was eminent and he would be more cautious. At the top of the little pass we hit a trail used by the other calves. He became more sure of himself, feeling the trail with his feet and turning back when he felt the undisturbed snow on the side. Soon the calves that had already gathered at the feed lot began to bawl in response to my voice. The blind calf perked up in recognition of the sound of his kind. He knew that he had a chance if he could once more get with the herd. When the blind calf heard the cadence of the water pump jack he turned to the tank and drank deeply.
By the time I had the grain in the troughs he was mixed into the herd never to be isolated again.
This is the end of the story as far as the calf, but it has affected my life for over thirty years.
I remember the anguish in my heart as I pushed the frightened calf over the edge of the rock, and think of the anguish of Father God, as he pushes some of His children into frightening circumstances to save their souls.
I love this story. It is so easy for us to see that the cowboy has only good intentions for the calf. The calf need only trust this cowboy who knows how to rescue him.
Yet it is so difficult at times for us to see that Father God has only good intentions for us, His creation. We need only trust our Father who knows how to rescue us. The fall may feel like a plunge into the unknown darkness, but it is Father God bringing us closer to Him.