. . . SEE WHAT GOD HAS DONE (BY GUEST J. D. WININGER)
Standing at the window, this old rancher takes a sip from his third cup of coffee. “Finally,” comes a silent thought, “it’s light enough.” As dawn breaks each morning, before I don my boots, hat, and jacket, I count. First one pasture, then the next. I count cow-butts each morning. Not a glamorous job, especially when you consider that cattle don’t use toilet paper! But it’s a necessary job.
This is my way of taking inventory control. If the count is off in a particular pasture, then I need to investigate; especially when it’s the pasture where I place all the expectant mama cows. When birthing is imminent, a mama cow will get away by herself and hide. I think it’s an instinctual thing, just like hiding their newborn calves for the first week of their life.
On this clear and sunny morning, I counted the mamas and babies first; then I moved to another window to get “eyes” on Mavric, the bull, as well as my donkeys. I take a quick glance at the neighboring pasture, just to make sure things look right. About the time I get to 40, I realize I’m humming one of my favorite old hymns. “Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your many blessings see what God has done.” The chorus echoes in my mind.
Well, my eyes got moist and the waterworks turned on as I stood there realizing I wasn’t taking inventory any longer – I was counting my blessings. Each animal here in Texas at the Cross-Dubya Ranch is a blessing to me. Like my family members, God has entrusted each head of cattle, each donkey, and each dog into my guarded care. It is a responsibility I don’t take lightly. Perhaps that’s why I’m up each day before dawn, preparing for my day of taking care of all the blessings God has given me. Maybe it’s why I pray as I stand watch over them each day. Thinking about this, the words of Philippians 4:8 came to mind.
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
I realized how in those quiet moments when it’s just me, my black retriever Bubba, the cows, and God, it’s easy to count your blessings. As my day progresses with emails, phone calls, problems to deal with, fences to mend, etc., it becomes more difficult to recognize all the blessings I’ve been given. Satan takes great delight in disrupting our thoughts and taking our minds off of the good and godly things that we should make central in our lives.
With all this pandemic hoo-ha and political posturing going on, Satan must be having a field day. All too often, our day-to-day human living takes precedence over our spiritual lives. Dealing with the current challenges of today’s management of life can easily take our focus off our future. The result? We can set aside our joy and hope in Christ. We end up not counting our blessings but focusing on our problems. We forget that we are just sojourners passing through this temporary life.
One way that I combat this is to spend a few minutes before I close my eyes thanking God for each blessing received throughout my day. Most of them are living beings, not material things – my wife, my friends, and others with whom I have interacted during my day; the land and animals God allows me to care for; and, yes, material things like not getting the tractor stuck in the mud hole or the bull not knocking me to the ground when I wasn’t paying attention. I can fall asleep knowing I’ve taken a few minutes to say “thank you” to the One who is most deserving, from whom all blessings flow. “Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens” (James 1:17). During this uncertain and challenging time in our lives, I hope each one of us can take a few minutes every day to stand in God’s presence. Spend some time sharing with Him our thanks for all He is, all He gives, and all He does.
J. D. Wininger is a man of many talents: a strategist, a manager, a talented business writer, a rancher, a Texan, and an award-winning Christian writer and speaker. He blogs, tweets, records, and posts on social media regarding ranch happenings, God reminders, and faith lessons. He’s become an encouraging friend not only to me as a writer but to many writers. He owns a ranch he calls Cross-Dubya that he dedicated to the Lord seven years ago after he and his wife, Diane, moved to Cooper, Texas following his retirement. The ranch stories on his blog https://jdwininger.com/around-the-cross-dubya-jds-blog/ will inspire, educate, and challenge you to seek a deeper faith, live closer to God, and respect this great land and those who tend it a little more.