I loved staying at my grandma and grandpa’s farm when I was a kid. I loved to sleep in their large screened porch with a tin roof, especially on a rainy summer night. Because they heated their home with a wood stove, winter nights were spent completely covered in a bed warmed with a brick that had been heated atop the stove. I rarely stuck my head out of the covers, but, when I did, I could see my breath. It sounds miserable, but it was not; it was an adventure.
My grandparents raised most everything they ate. I often helped Grandma make homemade egg noodles and peanut butter cookies. I resisted trying some of their recipes, though. I steered clear of hogshead cheese. I begrudgingly ate zucchini or spaghetti squash. I was fooled into eating pumpkin pie made of squash. I liked rabbit, however. It tastes like chicken.
My job when visiting their farm was to collect eggs. More than once, I faced off with black snakes that wanted the eggs worse than I. I even helped butcher the chickens and pluck the feathers.
I think that someday, when I am old and my memory has faded, the thing I will remember most about that farm will be keeping the newborn piglets warm under a heat lamp in the wee hours of a cold winter night. I laugh when I think that I named them. I may as well have named them Bacon, Ham, or Pork Chop. I was maybe nine years old, so what did I know? I made friends with the piglets and the sow (mother pig).
I only thought I made friends with the sow. I feel asleep in the barn. Later Grandpa carried me into the house. The next morning, I went out to check on the piglets. Grandpa had already let out the sow. As I crossed the barnyard, she was busy at the slop trough. Before I could enter the barn, she snorted and squealed and chased me to the gate. This hog was no friend.
Instead of opening the gate, I dove for a small gap under the fence. I thought I was safe. I wasn’t. The sow bit into my leg. Grandma spent the next couple hours doctoring it. I spent weeks milking attention from it.
That sow was vicious, just the opposite of the verse in Philippians 4:5 –
Let your gentleness be known to all men…
That verse brings to mind Christ’s words in Matthew 10:16 –
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”
The verse in Philippians is part of a larger context that speaks about the peace of God.
Don’t worry… Be gentle.
Don’t fear… Be meek.
Don’t fear… Be like a lamb.
Stop being anxious… Be like a dove.
That begs the question, then, how does gentleness bring one peace?
Take a look at the rest of that verse –
…the Lord is at hand.
The Lord is at hand.
He is by your side. Within reach. He’s your Guide. Protector. Defender. You have no need to worry. Your wellbeing is His concern. Vengeance is His concern, too.
Fear Not, for the Lord is at hand.