Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Not Enough Bull

At a friend’s ranch on a recent weekend, I was exposed to a single situation that set in motion three distinct tragedies. The one ‘tragedy’ that would probably be considered the least tragic in this particular circumstance stuck with me as being the most tragic as it could apply in our day-to-day lives. Let me explain.
Tragedy #1: Probably very early on Friday morning (unknown to anyone that could have helped), an older cow experienced some extraordinary difficulties in giving birth to her calf; enough so that she was unable to get back on her feet and remove the remnants of the birth sack that covered the newborn calf’s head. So, unfortunately, the calf suffocated and died before it ever really lived.
Tragedy #2: Around 9:00 p.m on Friday, we discovered the cow - still on her side, experiencing slight tremors in her muscles, and apparently still experiencing minor contractions. While she seemed to have at least some control of her muscles, slightly moving a leg or her head, she was totally spent. She was unable and/or unwilling to oppose any efforts we made to ascertain what was wrong or to help her. We contacted veterinarians and tried all we knew to try. The next morning, when attempts to get her on her feet showed that she was totally incapable of using any of her muscles, we were forced to ‘put her down.’
Tragedy #3: Through this entire event, other cows (some with newborn calves) stood around seeming to show some interest and compassion for the dying cow, if you’ll allow some degree of anthropomorphism. Most pointedly, the bull – the calf’s father – stood by and did nothing. I’m certainly not suggesting he could have performed a Cesarean section or something else impossible for the species. But he absolutely could have helped remove the birth sack from the suffocating calf’s head.
But no - that’s not what bulls do. They consider their entire “fatherly” responsibility completed at the insemination of the cow.
Most people would not deem the bull’s lack of action as particularly ‘tragic.’ Maybe someone would point out that the calf still might have died because another cow probably wouldn’t have ‘adopted’ it and nursed it to health and maturity. Someone might say that it was ‘nature’s way’ of thinning out the herd – you know, ‘survival of the fittest.’ Someone else might assert that such is not the bull’s lot in life, it’s not what he was made to do.
I’m not going to argue against any of those points. Instead, I just want to highlight how the situation made me consider how many fathers in our world take the same approach as the bull. And maybe sometimes (to some degree) that’s me.
Those guys who ‘make babies’ and hit the road are easy targets, but I’m not taking aim at them (*). No, I’m talking to guys who want to be thought of as ‘good dads,’ but often consider only certain activities as within their realm of responsibility.
Sure, they want to help “Junior” master his curve ball; they’ll take the kids camping and hunting; they build the jungle gym in the backyard; they ‘bring home the bacon’; and they certainly plan to escort their daughter down the aisle some day.
But just about everything else is supposed to be left to ‘mom,’ right?
Well I’m afraid that’s just a lot of bull!
God specifically designed women for certain purposes and they can fulfill those purposes better than any of us men possibly could. But no matter how good of a job a mother does, she can’t be the father. I am convinced that there are certain characteristics of God that our sons and daughters won’t really grasp unless and until they are demonstrated by us – their dads. And that is virtually impossible to do that on a part-time basis or by erroneously thinking you can make up for a lack of “quantity” time by forcing “quality” time.
For example, with those cows, if another ‘momma cow’ had stepped in to ‘rescue’ the little calf, we would think, “How nice that her ‘mother instinct’ kicked in and she nurtured that needy calf.” But if that bull had stepped in to save the day, we could see a demonstration of his might and strength being voluntarily set aside to provide the tender care and unconditional love that was desperately needed at that particular moment. (Kind of like what our Father did for us, isn’t it?)
There is not time nor room in this space to try to list every aspect of God’s character that we can and should be demonstrating to our children by the way we father them. But in studying the Bible from cover to cover and looking to God as the ultimate ‘father figure,’ we can see that with regard to His children: He leads them, He teaches them, He provides for them, He disciplines them, He blesses them, He rescues them, He loves them.
He is always there for them.
Isn’t that what we should be doing, too?
Are you doing that?
I hope so.

Yes, that bull did all that was really demanded of him. Yet his progeny died right there under his nose.

Trying not to be full of bull,
Craig Hollingsworth

(*) While it’s not my intent to beat up on absentee fathers, I wanted to share some statistics with you about children from homes without fathers. I would speculate that on a sliding scale of how active (or not) a father is in a child’s life (a scale of “relative fatherlessness”), the statistics vary along a continuum of these same figures:
63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census)
90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes
85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes (Source: Center for Disease Control)
80% of rapists come from fatherless homes (Source: Criminal Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26, 1978.)
71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes (Source: National Principals Report on the State of High Schools )
75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes (Source: Rainbows for all God`s Children.)
70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report, Sept 1988)
85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home (Source: Fulton Co. Georgia jail populations, Texas Dept. of Corrections 1992)

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