I accompanied my husband to a livestock auction today. Each year we sell about half of the calves our herd of nineteen cows produces. Today was the day of the sale. We sorted and loaded nine calves into the trailer and set off.
Once the calves were unloaded and the trailer parked, we entered the sale arena. If you can imagine a fish tank, basically square, with a high wooden seat, like a judge’s platform in a courtroom or a king’s throne making one wall of the tank, and a tall cable fence marking the other three walls, you have successfully visualized the arena. Add three tiered wooden constructions surrounding the cable fence and facing the high seat that serve as seating for the buyers meandering in and out and you have the entire scene.
The arena is fairly small, only about twenty feet long and ten or twelve feet deep. Large metal doors on either side of the high seat lead to the barn where hundreds of pens house the consignment animals. Everything is run in an efficient and animal-friendly way. This particular auction has been in operation for many years and the staff know their jobs and perform them well. Animals move smoothly from their pens to the auction ring and back to their pens to await loading into their new owner’s truck or trailer.
As I watched this process repeated over and over for each new animal or group of animals, it struck me how so many people are like these animals. We watch as they are paraded in front of us and judge their worth by what we can see. We tend not to look below the surface, not caring what parasites or diseases lay hidden beneath their exterior. We don’t want to know, because if we do, we might feel God’s call to help them, and that would be a terrible inconvenience.
One particular calf was so sickly-looking that no one bid on her. She was declared unfit to buy. How often do we do this? Take one look at the exterior of a person and decide they are not worth the effort to feed or care for. Perhaps with a caring friend that person might shine once more. But, instead, we cast them off and leave them to die inside, whatever poison they are hiding, festering until it kills their soul and their hope. We might be their final chance.
Or, perhaps, do you identify with the calf in the ring. Are you on display, wishing you could just remain hidden. Are evil desires bidding against your wish to do good. Is you future determined by the moment? By which side antes up the most immediate pleasure or the most temporary relief from pain?
The chains imposed by selling ourselves to the highest bidder are often heavy and become increasingly hard to carry. Moving out of the arena seems impossible, and so, we are purchased again and again only to be abandoned once our buyer is done with us. The cycle repeats, sometimes generationally. The buyers are many, but all share one thing – their desire to use us up and leave us for dead or resell us for a profit.
There is only one solution to this problem. One person who can strike off the chains and set us free from even the deepest pain and heartache. Jesus, who allowed Himself to be chained by evil and slaughtered in Satan’s attempt to bring an end to His power, paid the price of sin–death–for each one of us. Instead of breaking the power of the Almighty, Satan destroyed his own power over death and ultimately his hold over mankind.
Oh, his arguments still manage to deceive and enslave, but not one man will die the forever death unless he fails to choose Jesus. Satan still twists the truth and fights in the battle, but the victory goes to those who choose to follow the King of Kings, the Savior, Jesus Christ. I urge you to choose him, to choose the free gift of eternal life that is offered by grace, through faith. I promise your chains can be gone and you can be forever free.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV
Don’t end up back in the auction ring or wondering how you ended up with the current owner of your soul. Choose to follow Jesus, today! Find a Bible-believing church near you and begin your journey away from slavery and toward a free life in Jesus.
And for those of us in the audience, the ones with the bidder numbers. We’ve chosen God. We attend church. We give of our money, time and talents, but what do we do when confronted with the sickly calf? Do we ignore it, hoping someone else will have mercy on it? Or do we take it under our own protection and do for it what we can? I’m guilty of ignoring the call to care. I don’t have time. I don’t have energy. I don’t have the resources. But sometimes all that’s required is a listening ear or a few meals. I challenge myself, along with all of you, look beneath the surface and find those who need more care, then give it. Like the boy throwing the starfish back into the ocean, we may not be able to care for them all, but we can make a difference to the one by one.