My parents have a small flock of goats. We enjoy going out to the barn and feeding them, trying to win these animals over (we want them to be more like pets than farm animals...we have lofty dreams). Today we took apple slices. There are eight goats, so you can imagine how quickly one apple goes. But those little goat mouths don't give up easily and they will nibble on anything they can, including fingers. I was letting one of them nibble on my finger. When we first got the goats I was told that they don't really hurt when they nibble as long as you keep your fingers at the front of their mouths. Apparently the dangerous teeth are in the back.
Well, mom and I sat there and as we were talking and feeding the goats, she got a pretty hard nibble. She warned me again to be careful. I was watching what I was doing, but apparently I can't focus on two things at once and turned my head away from the goats and the next thing I know, my finger is in the grinding teeth of this goats!! OUCH!! It bruised the nail badly, and even broke the skin on my finger tip (and there may or may not have been some cries of pain). I learned a very valuable lesson and experienced an amazing tender mercy because of it.
The lesson: Be aware!! Not only when you are feeding goats, but in life. Be aware of the pain that comes from being distracted, the result of thinking "I have it all under control" or "I know what I'm doing". I'm sitting here tonight typing with only 9 fingers because I didn't pay attention for one moment. Satan is quick and crafty and only needs to distract us for a moment to cause us pain that comes from following him. We need to always be alert and on the path, never looking away from what our ultimate goal is (which, in case you're wondering, is to return to the presence of God).
The tender mercy: I was asked to accompany a quartet in church today. This week as I've practiced, I've been more nervous than ever that something was going to happen to my hand and that I wouldn't be able to play. I hurt my wrist mid-week and thought that my worries were coming true. I took it easy and prayed a lot and I didn't have any problem. They performed today and it was one of the most beautiful pieces I've heard, sung by four very talented individuals. I was grateful to be able to play as planned. The miracle to me is that I didn't have a goat bite my finger last night. There will be no piano playing for a day or two, but I accomplished what I needed to today, and I can deal with the rest.