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Out Our Way: Is the winter pasture real?

1 Corinthians 13:12 'Now I know in part, then I shall know fully'

Out our way, spring is a joyous season. Checking fence with Charlie and watching young calves frolicking about always brought a smile to our faces. I think even the horses, "Doc" and "Jet" enjoyed it as well, for they seemed to feel the excitement of the young'n's and get a bit of bounce in their step as well. Ah, spring! Ah youth! Ah boundless life, energy and abundance.

But spring becomes summer - and with it calves become steers or heifers - still young, but no longer so carefree. They are largely on their own now and having to fend for themselves. Instead of mama's milk, they now have to forage and graze. And as the summer sun beats down and heats the land, the green grass begins to turn yellow and then brown as it dries out. The once-flowing streams are starting to dry up. By fall they begin to feel hunger and thirst.

But then comes Charlie and me to round them up and move them out. The younger members of the herd are mystified and confused. Who are these strange horsemen? Why are they moving us? Where are we going? The elder members of the herd already know the answer and so accept the season of the fall roundup. Yes, they know they are leaving their "world" behind - but they "fear no evil" for they know the promise of "green pastures and still waters" is not for this pasture only, but also for the one that lies ahead.

Still, you can sense the fear and trepidation in the little ones who don't know of the lush winter posture awaiting them. They can only know the world they once inhabited will be left behind. But they also know the herd has survived many seasons before - and while they "see in a glass darkly" (1 Corinthians 13:12) and "see only a dim reflection of the whole reality" the witness of those who have gone before testifies to what, for them, is unseen hope and only accepted by faith. 

In this Holy Season, as per usual, there are those who delight in trying to frighten the calves and divide the herd as they encourage the darkness and challenge the message of the Resurrection. "All fake and myth!" they cry. "Where is your proof of God? Where is your proof of Christ being raised and heaven awaiting?" Ask the bewildered calf where is the proof that a winter pasture exists? It is in the existence of the herd year after year. It is in the testimony example of the generations of cattle who yearly testify to its existence.

"Where is your proof that Jesus was resurrected as claimed? Where is the evidence that the empty tomb was really empty?" The testimony of the women - then the disciples - then Saul, who became Paul later while seeking to stamp out the Gospel until the Risen One came to him. That's a start. Then the incredible testimony of the past 2000-plus years of the Church spreading around the world to all nations and peoples just as was prophesied. Like that wonderful message from the Russian priest who countered the atheist claim that the Church was dead - who noted that while all those who sought to persecute and stamp out the faithful during the the reign of the atheist controlled government, media and academia for over 70 years all died while the Church they sought to eliminate remained ... and still does to this day.

Young calves who are immature and thus vulnerable to being manipulated may begin to believe the naysayers who deny the winter pasture exists. But the mere survival of the hard generation after generation challenges that dogma.

So here we are, 2023-plus years since the resurrection was announced and the word began to spread - first with three women - then the disciples, then with hundreds, then thousands, then millions and it still continues to this day.

I could not "prove" to those calves that the winter pasture exists until they enter it and see for themselves. I can only point to the well trod trail of generations that went forth in faith and found it over the years. I cannot "prove" to the atheist or their followers that Christ has risen - but only point to the millions who have believed over the past 2,000-plus years.   

Be blessed and be a blessing!

Brother John

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The Rev. John Bruington is the retired pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Havre. He now lives in Colorado, but continues to write "Out Our Way." He can be reached for comment or dialogue at [email protected].

 

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