When we first got our cows, milking took all of my mental focus to accomplish.
How to make sure everything in the milk house is ready so the milk went into the tank and not onto the floor. How to hold the milker-unit just right so it wouldn’t break suction. How to work efficiently enough to make sure there are cows washed and stripped before its time to put the milker on. How to plug everything in. How to tell if a cow has mastitis. How to tell if a cow is ready to freshen. How to stand so that if the bovine kicks, it won’t get you.
The list goes on. I’m sure you understand…there was a lot to learn and remember. At the beginning we had three milking units. Between my husband and me, it took all of our energy to keep up with them.
But things change with time. You learn patterns and efficiency. Things that once took all your focus become second nature.
This morning as I was standing in the middle of the barn, waiting for the [now] four milkers to finish, I thought about how different things are. In between changing units, I get on facebook with my cell phone. I read blogs. I text people or call them. If my husband is around, I have time to talk to him or steal a few kisses. I have time. Time to be and know and connect and think.
There is no rushing. No trying to quiet my mind. No trying to figure out what should be happening next.
It was a discipline that became a lifestyle.
I’m sitting here next to my Bible and journal. The pages creased and lined with pencil marks. Psalms 81:13 is scrawled across the page. If my people would but listen to me… and it hits me.
A lifestyle of listening is what I am striving for. This is the reason for the discipline of daily devotions, of memorizing Scripture, of setting times of prayer, of communion, of community, of worship, of praise…
- It doesn’t matter if there are days that I feel like sitting down to read the Bible is akin to pulling my hair out.
- It doesn’t matter if I can’t seem to memorize two words in conjunction to each other.
- It doesn’t matter if my prayer time is filled with wandering thoughts and frustration.
- It doesn’t matter that there are times when communion holds no value because I can’t focus long enough to recognize the bread in my hand as bread, let alone a picture of the body of Christ.
- It doesn’t matter that some days the thought of communicating with another person sounds like banging my head against a wall.
- It doesn’t matter that some days when I lift my hands in worship, my heart is struggling to follow.
- It doesn’t matter that the praises that fall from my lips are coming from practice, not true gratitude.
It doesn’t matter because it always starts with the practice of discipline. I still need to crack open the pages of my Bible. Still need to repeat the words to myself. Still need to whisper prayers. Still need to eat the bread and drink the wine. Still need to be in community. Still need to worship. Still need to praise.
And eventually I’ll realize that I have time to be and know and connect and think… right in the middle of the discipline. Because of the discipline.
The Word will spring to life and fill my mind with true beauty. The prayers will deepen and flow and the practice will become a way of life.
Just like the discipline of milking cows has provided income, exercise, health, food… So, the disciplines of following Christ will provide the ability to know intimately the Redeemer of all.
There are still days though. Days when lifting the milking unit onto the bar seems to take every ounce of strength that I have left. Days when pulling myself from bed to settle in my kitchen chair with my Bible open before me… honestly, makes me cry. (my prayers are usually littered with, “But, God, I am so, so tired.”)
But the cows always have to be milked. If they don’t get milked, they die.
Our spirits need the Word. If we don’t get fed, we die. Manna, today, or I die.
The promise from Psalms 81:
“If my people would but listen to me,
If Israel would follow my ways,
How quickly I would subdue their enemies…
…you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
With honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”