One of my sons raises goats and he keeps a few dairy goats along with his meat goats. I enjoy helping him with his dairy goats. Goats – like many other animals – have unique personalities and often have funny quirks and habits that make them fun to watch, but those same habits which I often find endearing, can also be annoying – especially when it comes to milking.
He has one in particular that really tries my patience. She has many good qualities that I like and I even convinced my son to keep her when someone recently offered to buy her, but she can be temperamental. She reminds me almost daily of how short-tempered and impatient I can still be even though these are short-comings in my character that I have often sought the Lord’s help in over-coming – especially when I was younger.
However, although her temperament may bring out the worst in mine, I found myself smiling yesterday while she preformed her antics on the milking stand and I looked at my son and jokingly asked him, “remind me – what is it that patience is supposed to perfect?” The thought that even a silly goat can be used of the Lord to mold my character lightened the moment and we both laughed. The improvements may be tiny and I am certain they are not of my own doing, but it is nice to occasionally laugh instead of continually fighting back outbursts of anger and impatience.
It reminded me of Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” I have often heard this scripture used to encourage those who were struggling with specific things they felt called to do, and I am also guilty of using it in that context, but I wonder if what Paul is really referring to here is the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.
I cannot make myself holy, only Christ can do that, but I can submit myself to those daily little trials that over long years of time do bare some slight evidence of sanctification in my heart. When I stumble and lose my temper or some other fault rises to the surface of my heart – which happens daily – I can be discouraged at how little I’ve traveled in these long years of journeying or I can pick myself up, pray for assistance, remember and be encouraged that the good work which He began, He will continue.