A parable is a short story that illustrates a moral principle. In the bible, Jesus told many stories relevant to the culture of His listeners in order to illustrate spiritual principles. Being a Christian who likes cows and enjoys writing, I naturally wanted to write some cow stories to illustrate some of the things I've learned from the bible. Here are a couple:
Page 1 - The Electric Fence (this page)
Page 2 - The Mountain Track
This one is about how the boundaries (also referred to as rules and restrictions) God places in our lives are there for good reason: because God cares about us and prefers us to avoid doing harm to ourselves.
The Electric Fence
© Graham Barker 1998
One spring, the chief cattleman led his beloved herd of cattle up onto the high plains to graze. He chose a rich pasture which would satisfy the needs of the most fussy cows: abundant fresh green grass, endless supplies of running springwater, a smorgasbord of alpine flowers to enrich their diet, beautiful rolling hills to frolic on, quiet billabongs to rest beside, and snowgums to shelter beneath. He further expressed his love for his cattle by smearing vegemite on a log for them to lick, so that their joy would be complete.
Seated upon his great white horse, the chief cattleman spoke unto his herd while they chewed their cud: "Because I love you, I have provided everything you need to graze peacefully and contentedly. However, I ask you to remain within the land I have set apart for you, bounded by that distant ridge, the creek over yonder, and the treeline down below". The cows nodded in agreement as their cattlemen pointed out the boundaries with his stockwhip. "If you stay in this area you will be blessed with long life and much fatness, but if you stray beyond it you will miss the blessing, for many dangers, toils and snares lie out there".
At first the cattle obeyed. Bellies grew fatter, milk production soared, and moos of delight echoed between the distant ridges as the cows enjoyed the good things provided for them. However it wasn't long before one of the more rebellious cattle wondered if he could do even better for himself beyond the allotted area, as nice as it was. Maybe the grass was greener? So Horrie the bull tiptoed furtively over the distant ridge one morning to see what he could find. Lush peaks and valleys spread as far as he could see, and Horrie was udderly delighted - until he carelessly walked into a swamp popular with black snakes. He was bitten, and died.
Horrie's boldness to explore aroused curiosity in the rest of the herd, and other cattle followed in his hoofsteps. One such cow was Daisy, who had heard rumours of fat and tasty moths that congregated between the craggy rocks of the summits every summer. In spite of her daintiness and the hungry calves depending on her for milk, she left the pasture and ambitiously scaled the highest peaks in search of the tempting moths. Unfortunately she slipped on a late-melting snowdrift and fell to her death.
Then there was Wendell, a handsome stud bull with a fine coat and big horns. He felt unappreciated by the cows in the chief cattleman's pasture, and so was easily captivated by the wild brumby with the fiery red mane who he spotted rolling playfully on a far hillside. One moonlit night he ignored the boundaries set by the chief cattleman. He went off with the brumby of his dreams and was never seen again by his fellow bulls, or the cattleman who loved him.
Just as tragic was the case of Bessie, a strong young cow with an independent streak but no calves, not having found the right bull yet. She deplored her dependence on the chief cattleman and wanted to stand on her own four feet, so she moved out of the herd and vowed to make it on her own. Bessie was indeed a capable cow and carefully avoided treading in any cowpats, so to speak, during her high country roaming. She escaped accident, but when it came time for the autumn muster she couldn't be found. Left behind, all alone, she perished in the winter snow.
Enough was enough, thought the chief cattleman. He erected a sturdy fence around the lush pasture on the high plains, so that when he led his remaining herd back up there next spring they would be securely contained within the boundaries. As an extra measure, he had the whole fence electrified.
There was movement at the stations as word of this new fence was passed around, and an ABC radio reporter was sent to interview the chief cattleman. Seated upon his great white horse, the chief cattleman explained: "I erected the electric fence in the best interests of my cattle, whom I love very much. Despite having all their needs supplied within the lush pasture I set apart for them, many looked for satisfaction elsewhere and came to grief, which mooooves me to tears. Each one is precious, and I can't bear to lose an udder one. The fence is a form of discipline designed to stop them straying out of my care. It may hurt a little if they touch the fence, but it's for their good - if they stay within my carefully chosen boundaries they will live long and prosper, and their udders shall overflow. Surely goodness and love will follow them all the days of their lives if they graze in my paddock forever".