On our Indiana farm, when the snow falls, the fields are but a blanket of white covering the ground. It is absolutely beautiful, and of course I am continually snapping pictures. Our farm is always full of photographic moments.
However, on the coldest night of the season last year, Elsie, one of our dairy cows, went into labor. The calf was breech so the next night, my husband called the Vet to assist with the birth. Unfortunately, by that time, the calf had died, bloated inside, and Elsie was fading fast. After working on her for a while, the Vet finally said there was no hope, she was not going to make it. He turned to my husband and chastised him for not calling earlier that morning. The Vet let him know just how horrible his farming abilities were. How could any farmer neglect a cow, resulting in the death of both cow and calf? The farmer did not respond. Being a city girl, I could not respond either. This was the first time I had ever witnessed something so ugly, and I was trying to process the magnitude of what just happened. The vet left disgusted.
If only he had known the events of the previous 24 hours…
The snow had been falling all day, and by evening it was pretty much a white-out. Here in this Indiana farm, the wind blows like an Oklahoma prairie. My poor husband was outside in sub-zero temperatures trying to make sure the animals were fed and gathered in protected areas. He noticed Elsie was starting to calve, and proceeded to corral her into the barn where she could give birth in a calmer, more protected environment. She must have been frightened by the fierce snow storm and turned toward the pasture at full speed. He ran after her but the snow was falling so thick it completely covered her trail. He came back for a flashlight and headed out again. As the temperature was already below zero, he was eventually forced to come inside to keep his feet and hands from frost-bite. If he would have been gone much longer, I would have gone out after him and in the white-out we both might have frozen to death while looking for each other, along with the cow. Early the next morning, he took Salty, the herd dog, and headed out to the fields to find and bring in Elsie. But, she was nowhere to be found. The ground was covered with at least twelve inches of fresh snow, and even Salty was unable to pick up any tracks or scent of the cow. The temperature was so low it was too dangerous for the dog to be out long. My farmer brought the herd in to milk, and then went out to look for Elsie again. Finally, she wandered up to the back of the barn about dusk and he was able to lead her into the barn where he had made a bed for her with hay bales and immediately called the vet. The tracks she left led back to the woods. No farmer ever would have found her in the white-out the night before.
I think you can see by now the point to this little story. How often do we jump to conclusions and pass judgment based on partial information? The vet based his opinion of the farmer on what he saw…not knowing anything about the previous night. Nor did he ask. How would his opinion change if he had been here the night before with my husband outside freezing in the sub-zero snowfall? Instead of leaving in a heap of disgust, he would be crying with the farmer and giving him a hero’s pat on the back for trying so hard to save the cow and calf. What a difference the other side of the story makes in our conclusions. There is always more than one side to every story. How different might we see things when we dig deeper. The sin of assumption…
How many lives have been destroyed from gossip based on the word of one who only knows in part? How often have false accusations based on judgments derived from partial information led to destroyed relationships? How hard is trust to regain? I believe we have all come across those who decided to dislike us based on the biased words of another.
Forgiveness. Wisdom. Prayer. The knowing that the only one to whom we are responsible knows all. The Lord knows the other side of the story. He gives comfort to hurting hearts. The 27th Psalm of David says, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” In other words, though every person turns against us, usually based on misleading information, the Lord knows the heart, and will, as Isaiah 54 puts it, “refute every tongue that accuses us.” He will hold us in the palm of His hand and dry every tear. The knowledge of God’s amazing love gives us the power to forgive those offenses and be aware of misleading situations so as to not offend others ourselves. No matter what floats about in the thoughts of others, we can rest in the comforting arms of the Lord, for He is where truth abides.