Two weeks ago we purchased a Jersey cow and two newborn bull calves. They were the rejects of a large dairy farm because the cow was not giving enough milk in one of her quarters and the calves were, well male, so they were not wanted. We were taking quite a chance because the cow was not the calves’ mother and if she did not accept them, we were faced with the daunting task of bottle feeding two babies.
And what did we know about dairy farming!
But by the grace of God, the beautiful Jersey cow, who we named Annabelle, proved to not only bond with one calf, but to be a devoted mother to both of the calves. Their first day together on our property she was already licking them and letting them suckle and lowing nervously if either one of them were out of her sight. It was astounding to watch them interact as if they had both been hers always. It was cow adoption at its finest.
According to the suggestion of our neighbors (who have helped us out of countless farming binds already) we got into the habit of penning up the calves every evening. We do this in order to get Annabelle used to going into her milking stall without her babies so that whenever we do start milking her she will be used to the routine.
In the early morning, just as the blue dawn of winter turns orange in the east, we hear them in their stalls mooing desperately. Spartan and Star, the young bull calves, wild with hunger, have to be held back until we get Annabelle in her milking stanchion. As soon as her head is secured and she is eating her sweet feed, we let the calves go to her.
This morning I read 1 Peter 2:2-3 and the passage breathed into life as never before.
Like newborn babies crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
I remember my own babies and their desperation for life. The way they awoke in the middle of the night with pursed lips and clenched fists, crazy for the nourishment that only I could give them.
It is no different with Spartan and Star. As soon as we release them from their stall, they bound to their mother with all of the vigor that separation produces. They suckle loudly and greedily, white, creamy froth covering their mouths and dripping like whipped cream onto the hay beneath them. They ram their little heads forcefully up into her quarters so that she continues to let down milk and they gulp until they have had their fill. And Annabelle stands patiently and lovingly still.
I remember, years ago, a missionary friend of mine praying earnestly, “Give me your Word, Oh Lord, lest I die!” I never forgot the desperation in her tone. And this from a woman who knew the Word, who had lived out the good news of Jesus for years. She still approached the Word of God with the same hunger and longing as a newborn baby.
I desire this for myself. I long for this for my children. That we may see the wonderful gift of the Word of God as our very sustenance. That we might say, along with our Jesus, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Luke 4:4.
That we might be like newborn calves.