This is the background to a very interesting Monday morning.
. . .
After researching various grass-fed cattle ranches within a reasonable driving distance, Amy recently placed an order with a gentleman located about two hours away and I set out this morning to pick up our purchase. I was expecting a few hours there, about ten minutes to pick up the meat, and a few hours home. Leaving at about 7:15, I figured I'd be back home by 11:30 -- noon at the latest.
I called Amy a little after 11:00 and told her I was just leaving.
. . .
Our meat order was to be picked up at the cattle rancher's home. After ninety minutes of interstate driving, the last portion of my trip took me to a two-lane highway, then to a rural road, then to an unpaved gravel road winding through a field. Finally, I sat in my car at the bottom of a hill -- looking at an unmarked mailbox on my right and a long winding lane to my left which headed upward toward an unviewable destination. This wasn't a road -- it didn't really even look like a driveway -- but my GPS was telling me I had arrived.
I called the rancher to be sure I was in the right spot. If this wasn't it, I didn't want to climb this crater-filled drive only to find myself face to face with a guy telling me I have a "purdy mouth."
On the other end of the phone came the rancher assuring me I was in the correct location and inviting me up the hill.
After a few turns and avoiding some holes that made me wish I still had my old Jeep and not a Honda CRV, the property came into view -- a beautiful farm house looking out over acres of land.
. . .
I rang the doorbell and was invited inside the rancher's home where he appeared to be finishing a text message on his phone. I considered pulling out my checkbook to have payment ready for him and to take up as little of his time as necessary -- but before I could even reach toward my pocket, he finished his message.
After some casual chit-chat about his business, the rancher mentioned a news piece that was done about his business which can be found on his website. I don't recall the exact progression of our conversation from there, but he subtly made mention of having an "amazing Christian testimony." For the sake of polite conversation, I asked if that was included on his website as well.
The rancher said it was not ... but in the same moment, turned quickly towards me and asked with a smile, "Are you a believer?"
"Yes, sir. I am," came my reply -- not entirely sure where this was headed.
"Do you want to hear the story? Do you have time?" he asked, clearly excited to have this door open even a crack.
While I'm not the world's biggest fan of small talk, I also believe that everyone has a story to tell and deserves a chance to be heard. I often remember a line from Max Ehrmann's Desiderata:
Listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.Don't get me wrong. Based on our few minutes of conversation up to this point, the rancher was certainly not dull nor was he ignorant. He was charismatic and quite intelligent.
Either way, did I have time to hear his story? Sure. I had a few minutes.
"Of course," I said.
With that, he invited me to join him at his kitchen table which was scattered with receipts and papers -- clearly where he'd been working earlier in the morning.
. . .
For over an hour, he talked and I listened.
I listened as he poured his heart out through multiple stories of having heard God's audible voice and experiencing moments of perfect peace. Some of his story took place when he was a teenager and other parts took place last month.
You may think I spent this time glancing at the clock or concerned for the well-being of my purdy mouth...but that wasn't the case.
I was fascinated. I was inspired. The hair on my arms stood up multiple times as he shared his story.
At times he laughed. At times his eyes filled with tears. A few times his hands trembled with emotion as he spoke.
This guy was not off his rocker.
I have a pretty accurate bullshit detector and he was no kook. He was a man with a passion for God who clearly bursts with excitement at the opportunity to share his story with anyone willing to hear it.
. . .
About the time I expected to be on the final stretch of my drive home, we headed outside to load my coolers. I paid the rancher and thanked him for sharing his story with me.
Winding down the lane back to the main roads, I wasn't quite sure what I'd just experienced.
I was pretty sure it was more than just buying some grass-fed beef.
. . .
Do I think the rancher has heard God's voice?
People experience God's presence in different ways. Although I've never had such an experience where I've heard God audibly speak to me, I've experienced His presence in my own individual ways at various times throughout my life.
The rancher said to me that someone once asked him why he has these experiences and they do not.
He and I agreed that it's because he allows himself to have these experiences.
That may seem over-simplified, but I think it's true.
It's hard to hear if you don't listen.
. . .
"It's amazing how reluctant or even terrified we are of accepting how peaceful life can be -- while seeming to spend all of our time seeking for it to be so. Every one of us embodies the Sacred One." -- Bo Lozoff (Deep and Simple)