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Steve Hanchett, pastor
Berry Road Baptist Church
Emil Lucas’ parents immigrated to the United States from Germany and settled in Northeast Oklahoma about the time the Indian Territory became a state. Emil never married and after his parents passed away he stayed on the farm and lived in the same white, tin-roofed, clapboard house his father had built and he had grown up in. By the time I became aquatinted with Emil he was approaching ninety years old, most of his teeth were gone and his face was leathered and his lips were stained brown from chewin’ tabbaco. I never saw Emil dressed in anything other than bib overalls.
When I met Emil he had long since passed the age where he could plow and plant his fields, so most of his land was leased out to other farmers. But Emil was still able to keep a herd of cows around. We lived just down the road about a mile from Emil’s house, so I drove by there often. During one stretch of time, about once a week I would pass by Emil’s and find some of his cows in the road. Generally I would stop and get Emil and he and I would herd his cows back inside the fence.
One day a heifer had gotten out and had wandered away quite a distance. So I stopped and went to the door and offered to give Emil a ride down the road and help him retrieve his cow. He got into the car with me and as we headed down the road he looked at me with his toothless frown and said repeatedly in his heavy German accent, “I caint unerstan howd dem cows keep gettin out.”
We drove up on his cow about the same time he finished his lament. As I put the car in park and we opened the doors, she casually looked up at us with a knowing glance. Before we could do a thing that cow walked through the ditch, put her nose under the middle strand of barbed wire, pushed it up and walked through the fence and back into Emil’s pasture. I looked at Emil and said, “Emil, I think I see the problem.”
Emil’s fences were in pitiful shaped. Those cows might as well have been a free range herd. The fence was more like a suggested boundary line then a secure blockade. I didn’t fault Emil, after all he was pushing ninety. That is not the age most folks are out fixing fence. I actually kind of admired him for working as hard as he did at his age. I understand that Emil stayed right there on the farm until the day he died.
Emil’s problem with his herd of cows was he just wasn’t capable of keeping the secure in his pasture. His health had declined and he no longer had the energy or the strength do what needed to be done to keep his herd safe. The task was too much for him. It wasn’t that he didn’t care or didn’t have good intentions. He just wasn’t able to keep them secure.
God has a herd too. Well, he calls them his flock. We began last week to look at the question, “Can the Saved Be Lost Again?” One of the most important issues we need to address in really answering that question is whether or not God is capable of keeping His flock secure. Or to ask it another way, does God allow His sheep get outside of His fold? Some people would answer with and emphatic yes. They believe that a sheep has the power not only to get out of the fold but once outside the fence he can change his nature and become a wolf.
I think they believe this for the reason we talked about last week. They see the weakness
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