She’s In Deep Muck. I Call Her Buttercup.

A shudder jolted through my chest. My pupils shrank. Heartbeat raced. “What was that?!”

A black mass surged up through the crusty layer of the pond-sized manure lagoon, then disappeared. I stared in disbelief. I waited. Nothing.

The manure lagoon is the collection reservoir for a year’s worth of barn cleaning. An old tractor tire fashioned into a plow and mounted on a skid-steer enables me to push manure, daily, from the alleyways of the elevated cow-shed to the lagoon 100-feet below.

Muck, manure is a valuable, recyclable commodity for a dairy farm. In the Fall, the liquefied compost is pumped through pipelines and injected into the soil of the surrounding fields, capturing hundreds of thousands of gallons of fertilizer for this sustainable agricultural practice.

Minutes later, after fumbling for my phone to alert my boss to the urgent situation, three more desperate lurches of panic confirmed that it was a 700-pound yearling Holstein heifer struggling for the embankment, thirty feet away.

She’s in deep muck. I call her Buttercup. The effort exhausted her. She sank.

Lush green pasture surrounds the lagoon during early spring days like this one. Buttercup should have been laying in the deep green grass, barely visible, chewing her cud. Instead, she waits, submerged, except for her air gulping muzzle, in a horrible pit, fatigued and hypothermic, needing rescue.

Take A Deep Breath of Remember. Do you, like me, feel a shockwave go through your chest, your gut, when you realize it’s not just Buttercup that gets herself into a horrible pit? Listen to the words of the Psalmist who understood our condition:

I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord. (Psalm 40:1-3, KJV)

My boss and his son liberated Buttercup. It’s a gospel-like story. A father sent his son out to the end of the appendage of the arm of a backhoe extended out over the lagoon, to place a halter on Buttercup and pluck her to the safety of solid ground. She shall flourish.

So, too, shall we. Once again, God’s top-down rhythm, drawing us to daily repentance, breaks into the Barnyard of Heaven. God Cleanses Us.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, so many times you have brought me out of a horrible pit. Thank you for sending Your Son, Jesus, to rescue me, save me repeatedly, and set my feet on a rock. I sing a new song to You. I sing my praises to my Savior. Amen.

Photo Credit: Mire and Clay


6 thoughts on “She’s In Deep Muck. I Call Her Buttercup.

  1. There’s only so many words in the English vocabulary to politely skirt what this situation really looked and smelled like in person – I’ve had a few summer jobs involving cleaning hog pens or pumping sewage tanks. You just have to steel yourself, press in, and do your job.

    But, you are very right, Ron… that was me – hopelessly drowning in the muck of sin. Only the contrast of what it took to save us is greater than we can imagine – Jesus left the pristine cleanness and beautiful glory of heaven to get into the retching, repulsive lagoon of sin with us. In fact, it says He BECAME sin for us so we could be a new creation in the Righteousness of God and live with Him in the clean and beautiful glory of Heaven.

    [2Co 5:17-21 NASB] 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

    Ron, these episodes from The Barnyard keep a pungent, earthy image my mind as to why there should never be a minute without an attitude of thanksgiving, praise and love to our Savior!

    Thanks for your ministry, Ron, and taking the time to document these teaching moments you receive from the Father. The new picture that His love lifted me from the manure lagoon of sin has put a whistle of joy in my heart and new spring in my step!

    ps, As it seems to often happen, Ron, your story reminded me of a song…
    “Love Lifted Me”
    (Alan Jackson does a fine job with this…)

    1 I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore,
    Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more;
    But the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry,
    From the waters lifted me, now safe am I.

    Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
    When nothing else could help,
    Love lifted me.
    Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
    When nothing else could help,
    Love lifted me.

    2 All my heart to Him I give, ever to Him I’ll cling,
    In his blessed presence live, ever his praises sing.
    Love so mighty and so true merits my soul’s best songs;
    Faithful loving service, too, to Him belongs. [Refrain]

    3 Souls in danger, look above, Jesus completely saves;
    He will lift you by His love out of the angry waves;
    He’s the master of the sea, billows His will obey;
    He your Savior wants to be, be saved today. [Refrain]

  2. Robert, thanks for your encouraging words. You add fullness to the picture I start out with by sharing scripture and songs that glorify God. I’m joining you with a “whistle of joy in my heart and new spring in my step!” So edifying! Ron

  3. Still meditating on your story…

    Deep in muck… I call her Buttercup! Love the ironic rhyme! Like in the Walt Disney movie where the skunk is named “Flower” by Bambi. I bet our guardian angels have “cute” nicknames for us, also, when get ourselves into another disgusting mess.

    So, how does young Buttercup get into these situations? Same way we do – thinking we can flirt with sin… thinking we are smart enough to walk a dangerous trail and never mis-step…

    “…Lush green pasture surrounds the lagoon during early spring days like this one. ”

    Your story gives a clue… The most appealing morsels seem to grow right on the border of danger. Proverbs says the wise see danger and turn away.

    [Pro 14:16 NLT] 16 The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with reckless confidence.

    In the TV series, M*A*S*H, the world presents the character Hawkeye Pierce as the ultimate in “Coolness”… his drinking, womanizing, pranks, and general disdain of any discipline never impedes his intellect for having the most clever come-back lines, his skill as the best surgeon in the Army, or being the most sensitive and compassionate human being alive. As this fictional image is presented, having just the right amount of sin maximizes your “coolness” factor.

    The trick of sin is that sin deceives us to believe that WE have the power to pick up sin and lay it down when we choose… The world advertises having that kind of [imagined] power and self-control works to enhance our “coolness”.

    The Preacher says, just as the army never releases anyone in the time of war, sin never releases those who practice it. [Ecc 8:8 NIV] 8 As no one has power over the wind to contain it, so no one has power over the time of their death. As no one is discharged in time of war, so wickedness will not release those who practice it.

    Better to be simple and humble and walk with the wise to salvation than to attempt “coolness” with the world.

    Secondly, Romans informs us that we are not masters at all – we are either a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness.

    [Rom 6:16-18 NASB] 16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

    Thanks be to God, that, when nothing else could help, His love lifted me from sin.

  4. “…It’s a gospel-like story. A father sent his son out to the end of the appendage of the arm of a backhoe extended out over the lagoon…”

    A beautiful observation added to your story, Ron.( But, just the sort of thing that would leave an OSHA inspector wide-eyed in disbelief!)

    I picture them as The Father and Jesus were, each having absolute confidence in the other. The Father has confidence that the Son will complete the rescue mission successfully. And the Son has confidence that the Father can insert Him into unfriendly territory and get Him back out. Jesus completed His mission by walking in complete faith of His Father’s words.

    [Psa 16:10 NASB] 10 For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.

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