We opened the gate, and stepped down into the chute, clad in our knee-high, rubber boots, laptops and notebooks in hand. It couldn't have been more than fifty feet to the gate that would take us up to the pharmacy on the other side, but it seemed miles away. Every step we took, the sticky manure clung to our boots, holding onto them as we tried to walk forward. A couple of times, my foot nearly came out of the boot. I have never walked through such a mess in my life! Then, suddenly...there was laughter. Not the kind you make when you hear a great joke, but the kind you hear when a sabotage is about to go down. Reluctantly, we looked behind us. We were overcome with an even greater sinking feeling. The farm hand had intentionally let in the next group of 100 cows to be milked. Judging by all of their motivated efforts to come running through the chute, we were not going to stand in their way of getting to the parlor, and that to-die-for alfalfa hay! My heart started racing. I looked around for help, there was none. My partner was turning every shade of green at the thought of what was really about to go down. I'll never forget what he screamed to me over the noise of the stampeding cows, slopping through the manure, " Our only way out is to make it through this and get to the gate!"
At first, that seemed so obvious. What a novel concept! But then it hit me. The first cow, then the second, and a third, and more, and more. I couldn't see my partner any more. I was trapped in a really bad pinball game, bouncing off the cows, spinning around. I pulled up my feet, keeping both boots by the grace of God and managed to rise above the muck by riding the cows through the chute. I would throw my hands, gripping my laptop and notebook across the cows' backs and coast along with them. Had I tried to stand still, I would have been trampled into the manure. Had I tried to escape by climbing up out on one side of the chute, I would have been trampled into the manure. If I had tried to go back, against the cow traffic to the first gate, I would have been trampled into the manure.
Was I scared? Absolutely! Was I uncomfortable? More than you can imagine! Was there resistance? 1000s of pounds per square inch! Why did I keep going? Just because this uncomfortable, and scary situation was unfolding around me did not give me an excuse to quit. I had a job I was committed to accomplish. Not work to benefit my personal good, but to determine how a certain medication had been administered to a cow that exceeded the tolerance level which was presented for human consumption. My job was to investigate this and hopefully bring an end to protect consumers from future, adulterated beef. Quitting, or being fearful, or avoiding the necessary hardship through this chute was less uncomfortable for me than the greater risks associated with consumers who would have consumed beef from this cow.
The Christian walk often takes us down into the manure-filled chutes in life. Many times, there are hardships associated with making our way through these situations. God never promised us an easy life for Him. He said that the servant is not above the Master; if they have persecuted Him, they will persecute us (John 15:18-21). In this world, we will have trouble (John 16:33). Whether on social media, or in random conversations throughout your day in the checkout lanes, sporting events, shopping malls, among church members, or at home within your own family there will be troubles. In the Bible, Christ doesn't pray for God to remove us from the manure-filled chutes! He prays for God to make us stronger to get through them (John 17). When you encounter conflict in these manure-filled chutes of this world, consider it all joy (James 1:2), but don't stop there! If you hope to have your faith grow, and your patience increase, you can not stop in the chute and merely react to the cows bumping you around, making you uncomfortable! If you want to have a faith that is big, and deep and wide, then you have to move forward through the chute, without retaliating against your temporary discomfort (James1:3-8). Do not turn back. Do not stand still. Do not turn to the side (Deuteronomy 5:32-33).
We ended up making it through the chute filled with cows bumping us around uncomfortably. In much the same way I am to accomplish the work I was assigned to see through to defend and protect the human food sources albeit by uncomfortable means to me that day; God is infinitely in control, for us, and for the greater good. He can and does make a way where there is no way (Isaiah 42:16). He will use the best means to bring about the most good to the most people for the longest amount of time. Who are we to stand still in an opportunity of trouble to deny His authority to use us for His greater good?! Who are we to become indignant, self-righteous, or afraid in that moment in the manure-filled chute?! Where is your faith (Luke 8:25). It only takes faith the size of a mustard seed to move mountains (Matthew 17:20).
More importantly, what will be your response when you find yourself in a messy chute, a counter-Christian discussion at work, a post on social media about abortion, homosexuality, idolatry, adultery, or other forms of sin? Do not turn around to avoid, or try to climb out of the chute. Do not stand still, self-righteously or you will sink, and become stuck! Move forward along the path He has set you on, always being prepared to give a reason for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15). Without using your faith to get out into the chutes of life, how are you any different from the man who sees his face in the mirror, but when he goes away, forgets what he looks like (James 1:22-25)?
The times we are living in are not getting easier, but increasingly more difficult. The enemy knows his days are numbered. Troubles are going to keep coming, and they are going to increase in intensity and duration. If you do not have your answers to give in the chutes for what you believe, and why you believe it - seek out His wisdom while it may yet be found (Isaiah 55:6-13). Gather together not merely for the fellowship of fun-filled, leisurely activities to re-enforce your level of comfort outside the chutes, but engage with your fellow believers to train, plan, coordinate tactics, and strategies, training daily in group study of God's Word. And, engage with your community. It was not an option to turn back from a chute in life, but to go out, down, into all of them the world over to preach the gospel as He lives through you (Mark 16:15)! You know this to be good, so do it."...if anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them." - James 4:17