A dead sprint on a country road chasing after a goat

by Kari on April 1, 2013

baby goat

I was running in a dead sprint down a country road chasing after a baby goat. What am I DOING?

You just never know when the sacred will interrupt your mundane.

That morning Jeff & I had talked in low voices, quietly exchanging church-planting discouragement while the kids obliviously ate oatmeal and discussed ocean animals.

It was really my fault. I had come home in tears the day before, triggered by the most innocent question imaginable:

“You guys all gearing up for your first Easter service?”

I was caught off guard. “Uh, yeah. Yeah, we’re … we’re … gearing up.”

“What’re you doing?” (Inner monologue: Kari, get a grip. This is a completely reasonable question. This is what church-people ask! Why are you about to cry?)

“Um… well, we’re going to worship Jesus together. So yeah, it was great to see you. Take care.”

I darted to my car. What were we doing for Easter?

What were we doing period? 

Well, besides fasting for 7 days, my Easter-prep included a maddening series of seeking after Julie all week, laboring in prayer that she would choose life, chasing after this one ridiculous person who can’t find her way and who WANTS life, safety, and peace, but hasn’t the slightest idea how to find it. She’s darting around, wild, lost, and I’m chasing after her.

That kind of sums up my Easter-prep. Oh, and I guess I hung out in a bar and invited my neighbors to church too but I’m pretty sure they had plans to smoke pot instead.

This was what brought on the low-voiced talk of church-planting discouragement in the kitchen. What are we DOING?

I loaded up the kids and headed out to the boonies of Molalla.

About five miles from Riversong, along a narrow country road lined with farms, I saw the goats.

Three goats outside their fence, eating grass in the ditch by the road. I pulled off and turned around, heading back to the owner’s house. (Believe me, herding the goats myself was not my original plan.) Of course the owners were not home but their FIVE dobermans (I am not joking) were there to greet us.

I stared at the five dobermans, then at the goats. Oh good grief. Here we go. 

We inched back up the road and thankfully scared two of the goats through the small hole in the fence and back into their pasture. But one little baby goat was terrified, frantic, and darted off the opposite direction. No matter how I tried to maneuver in the car, he kept going the wrong direction. Oh for crying out loud. Here we go.

I put on the hazards, told the kids to hang tight, prayed for no oncoming cars, and took off in a dead sprint for this ridiculous goat. Without thinking I started calling, “Here, baby goat! Here, baby goat!” Then it dawned on me, I haven’t a CLUE how to herd baby goats! I finally got it chased into the neighbor’s yard a 1/4 mile up the road, and since there were SEVEN old cars parked in their driveway I figured surely they were home. Surely they would help me.

No one home.

I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced anything as maddening as trying to herd a goat. Just when I’d get it near where to go it would just dart off the wrong direction. He wouldn’t come anywhere near me. “I’m trying to HELP you!” I shouted, standing like an idiot in the middle of the road. Then, just as I was thinking to myself, What am I DOING? I heard that still small voice:

THIS is what you are doing. 

The verses suddenly came to mind.

If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? … In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish. (Matthew 18:12,14)

Of course I’m chasing a goat. Of course. Because this crazy little goat can’t find its way and he WANTS life, safety, and peace, but hasn’t the slightest idea how to find it. He’s darting around, wild, lost, and I’m chasing after him.

Because that’s what The Good Shepherd did.

Because Easter is all about the Good Shepherd taking off in a dead-sprint and chasing after His lost sheep. You. Me. Julie. Because we want life, safety, and peace, but haven’t the slightest idea how to find it. We’re darting around, wild, lost.

But He’s chasing after us.

He’s chasing after them.

And He calls us to go after goats. To chase wild sheep who are darting, frantic, wild, lost.

(Just for the record, it’s really maddening work.)

After 20 minutes of frustration, the kids and I prayed: “Dada God, please help this baby goat get back home.”

And with one last try, I lured her in, hid behind a broken-down Winnebago, swung the fence closed, and got my sweet baby goat safely inside her field. 

I climbed back in the car and Heidi shouted, “Mommy! We saved the day!”

Yes, sweetie-girl. That’s what we’re doing. One baby goat at at time.

~

{What lost sheep does Jesus want you chase? I pray for grace to embrace the maddening process and go after that wild, crazed, beloved goat today. Thanks for reading.}

 

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Brita Arcuri April 1, 2013 at 8:57 am

I LOVE this story. I was teary-eyed for so many reasons. Way to go Kari – way to save the day, and remind us all that those little maddening chases have big eternal purposes!

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Angela Witkin April 1, 2013 at 9:26 pm

Kari you are such a gifted writer! Love this to pieces.

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Chris Porter April 1, 2013 at 9:30 pm

Love this Kari. So proud to call you my friend. Absolutely loved hearing about you guys hanging with people at the bar the night before Easter. This story is such a great example of what we get to be a part of as church planters. It’s tireless, frustrating and thankless often but seeing people come to know or better understand Jesus makes it worth it ten fold!!! Standing with you friend!!
Chris

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Kari April 2, 2013 at 2:38 pm

AW, THANK YOU! It’s a joy to call you friend too, Chris. And, an encouragement knowing how you understand! Love you much. -Kari

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Kelsey Betts April 9, 2014 at 10:42 pm

That’s how I feel in friendships. I am there just wanting to be encouraging yet I feel as though I fall short, I want to be there supporting yet I feel I only cause more harm. The defeated feeling is debilitating YET God shows up and reminds me it’s all about Him, just like a literal goat being stranded, lost, confused, helpless and He ushers us into His arms and where His protection is abundant.

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