Several years ago, Bono Baptist Church hosted our dear friend David Lazarus, pastor of Beit Immanuel Messianic Congregation in Tel Aviv, Israel, for a week of teaching and ministry. Our church had begun a relationship with his congregation some months earlier and we jumped at the opportunity to fly him to Texas and spend time getting to know him better.
I will long cherish many highlights of David’s time with us, but what happened on the next to last evening of his visit will be something neither of us will ever forget. While here, David stayed at the beautiful country home of Donald and Priscilla Bennett. David had never been to Texas before and I knew he would enjoy the wide open spaces and quiet evenings under the stars at his host home. However, I did not anticipate just how much he would become acquainted with farm life.
Each evening of his trip, we had a special worship service at the church where David taught and spent time answering questions from the members. Attendance increased each evening, and so I began to get worried on the Tuesday night when the largest crowd yet was gathered and ready at 6:30, but David was nowhere to be seen. I pulled out my cell and dialed the Bennett’s house phone. The conversation that followed lasted about five seconds.
The phone receiver was picked up but there was no familiar greeting, just the sound of heavy and panicked breathing.
“Hello?” I said to whoever was on the line. “Is everything okay?”
Then Priscilla Bennett’s flustered voice came back in loud reply, “Sorry, I can’t talk right now. There’s a cow in the swimming pool!” And then the line went dead.
I looked down at my phone and wondered if I had heard correctly. Then I walked told the congregation there was a “situation” going on that would delay the start of the service (not mentioning a cow in the pool) and asked for their patience while I quickly drove over to the Bennett’s to find out what has happening.
Three minutes later, I was parked in front of the Bennett’s and running around to the back of the house. Sure enough, there a large bovine in the deep end of the swimming pool moo-ing loudly. Donald Bennett was actually in the pool next to it trying to coax it out and our very own Jewish cowboy, David Lazarus, was standing on the edge of the pool pulling on the rope that Donald had attached to the cow’s neck. I doubt I’ll ever see such a thing again in my life.
With a few final tugs of the rope from David, the cow finally decided to walk up the pool steps and out onto terra firma. She kind of looked around for a moment and then trotted off back to her friends and the pen she had managed to escape like nothing had happened. To his credit, David simply brushed himself off, looked at me and said, “I guess we had better get going to the church.”
That evening’s service was probably the highlight of the week as the congregation hooted with laughter while David recounted his story of the cow in the pool. As his parting gift, the church bought David a black Stetson cowboy hat and told him that he had to wear it on the day he told his tale to his congregation back in Israel.
This story always reminds me that in this life, we will each face “cow in the pool” moments. That’s my unique way of saying that life is unpredictable! There’s no telling what crazy situations might be waiting for us around the bend. We can’t predict or prepare for them; we just have to respond when they come.
You might not like the thought of facing unexpected events, but sometimes that’s just way life works. In fact, God often surprises us with the unexpected and unpredictable. He shows up in the burning bush, causes a donkey to start talking, and announces good news with a surprise visit by angels. God is wonderfully unpredictable!
Today, take a moment to recognize that you might encounter something totally unexpected. Ask your Heavenly Father to give you faith, strength, and boldness to face any situation head on, trusting in His provisions and grace when that moment comes. If you do, you’ll come out the other side with a story you’ll never forget.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6–7, ESV)