One thing that every person has to learn is how to approach in the right way. I enjoy watching my kids learn this with the animals. When you watch someone approach an animal, especially for the first time, their speed, posture, tone of voice, and manner can tell you almost everything you need to know about them.
Of course, the animals do the same. They learn all they need to know about you from your approach. People are contradictory, and probably a great riddle to them. It’s amusing to watch someone approach a horse with a halter; they obviously have an agenda. They march in like a hungry predator that’s cornered its’ prey, all the while saying in English, “Whoa. Easy…I won’t hurt you…” Ha! The slower they move, the more they look like a stalking predator. The confident approach is too aggressive while the timid approach is too creepy. I’ve found that with a humble, patient yet bold attitude, the best results come about.
These days, it seems that people want so badly to be ‘good with horses’ or ‘good with dogs’, they’ll spend a fortune learning how. They practice, and study, and rehearse the proper thing to do, all the while forgetting to simply be honest, kind, and good.
Not long ago, I was reading through the first three chapters of the Bible. (Genesis 1-3) I cried as I read it. God had a good purpose, good intentions for us. He gave us worthy work to do: to care for His Creation, the land and the animals. It’s just what ranchers do today except Adam and Eve didn’t do this ‘for a living’. There was no economic justification for watching a first calf heifer all night or driving sheep and cattle to better pasture. They did it because it was their purpose. God created Adam and Eve in His likeness, in His image. You could say they represented God to Creation. That’s the thought that made me cry. Because now, since the Fall, creation runs from us in fear, and we approach it all wrong. If you don’t mind some advice from a ranch gal, don’t believe the nature documentaries. Not every creature in God’s creation can be defined by the evolutionary model of predator-prey relationship.
There’s no training method that can do what a pure heart can do. When my daughter started crawling, my dog, Bek, was banned from my presence most of the time. She had never been friendly to anyone at first and never, under any circumstances, would she tolerate children without me having a hand on her. She didn’t like little kids, and I always kept her away from them for safety. My dog let some kids pet her, but only if they approached her right. And then, Kaelyn came along. Even with the scientifically wrong approach-basically slobbering, hollering, and launching her unsteady little self at the dog-Bek seemed to understand the child’s intentions were…good. Bek, the most unfriendly little smoky black Cattahoula/Border Collie that never let anybody come near me, suddenly became tolerant of literally anything…and liked it. By the same token, a stranger could offer Bek a steak and lose their arm.
You can achieve so much with animals on the merits of character alone, even with barely any skill. They teach the skills as you go. Just be honest, kind, and good in your approach. (I feel compelled to mention that bald-faced ignorance will get you hurt. So use common sense!)
Recently, I read the Great Commission from out of the gospel of Mark and had this question: what did Jesus mean by “all creatures”? I’ve asked this several times in my life of many other people, including seminary-educated scholars and common sense preachers. They’ve all told me it meant ‘all races, colors, tribes and tongues of people’. Duh. Of course it does. But my question threads back to Genesis 1-3, and the God-created purpose of mankind. That was the first commission, and it was built in to mankind from the get-go. Of course, mankind failed to do it well. But see, that’s where our approach really matters, to people and animals. Is it possible to let creation “hear” that same ‘message of reconciliation’ just by the way we approach it?
I know of some wonderful, sincere Christians who approach others with the Word of God like most people approach a horse with a halter in their hand. While speaking of love, they press hard for their desired response like salesman. And when the reaction is flight, they give chase. How can this possibly be the right approach when the Savior Himself didn’t do it that way? I know this may take some reflecting, but my question is, how does God want you and I to approach trials? Prodigals? Colts? Marriage? Parenting? Challenges? Land management? Failures? Dogs? Life…? More importantly, how should we approach God?
We can redeem so much of what is God’s in this world, just by being kind, respectful, and honest, even if we don’t know exactly how to reach that person or get through to that colt. Even if we are scared of what might happen next. We can also be blessed like never before by approaching God in a humble way. Let’s not get hung up on ourselves. Instead, lets be humble, kind and courageous in our approach and in doing this, increase the kingdom of God.