Push the cow off the cliff!

“Behold, I will do a new thing…” – Isaiah 43:19


Happy New Year! In spite of all the hassles and the pressures of 2016, you made it to 2017. 2016 probably presented you with many challenges that you thought would drown you. But you survived them all. On the other hand, 2016 may have done you quite well and your thinking is that you would just want to retain the status quo in 2017. Your favourite dictum is probably “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. Afterall, If it ain’t broke, why fix it?


But the world is getting more and more complex. Nothing ever remains the same for too long. With seeming comfort comes complacency. What you are doing may be sustaining you, but the real issue is, is it inspiring you? Is it significant enough to jumpstart your move into a necessary, even if not yet currently desired future? You cannot grasp the future while holding on to the present. Many of us are crippled by the syndrome of “it may not be much but at least it’s certain”. In 1986 when I left the civil service for the private sector, an uncle of mine, out of genuine concern for me, asked why I was leaving certainty for uncertainty! Thank God I took that chance.


Others are practically immobilized by the self-consoling thought that “I may not be doing too great but at least I am better off than some people that I know”. Thoughts like these merely cripple initiative. I am all for celebrating and being grateful for where you are now on your way to where you are going. The kernel of that is that you are headed somewhere! Contentment must never be mistaken for containment.

It had been a long trek for the sage and his disciple. Tired from the long walk and needing rest and food, they lifted their eyes and saw smoke in the distance coming out of a solitary hut in a desolate location with little or no flora. There they met a man living with his wife, three young children and a thin, tired cow. The sage and his disciple were well received as their hosts made them a hot meal and some fresh cow milk to go with it.

While they were seated at table, the sage asked: “This is a very poor place, and is very far from anywhere. How do you survive?”

“You see that cow?” said the head of the family, “She sustains us. She gives us milk. Some of it we drink and some we make into cheese. When there is extra, we go into the city and exchange the milk and cheese for other types of food. That’s how we survive.”

The wise man thanked them for their hospitality and left. When they were out of sight, he said to his disciple, “Go back, get the cow, take her to the cliff ahead of us, and push her off.”

“What? I cannot do that, master! How can you be so ungrateful? The cow is all they have. If I throw it off the cliff, they’ll have no way to survive. They might all die! That doesn’t seem to me a good way to repay kindness.”

Taking a deep breath the sage repeated the order; “Go ahead. Push the cow off the cliff.”

Though outraged at what he was being asked to do, the disciple had no choice but to obey his master.

He returned to the hut, quietly untied the animal and led it to the edge of the cliff and pushed. The cow fell down the cliff and died.

The disciple lived with the guilt of that act for many years. One day, when the guilt became too much to bear, he left the master and returned to that little shack. He wanted to find out what had happened to that family, apologize for what he and his master did and possibly help them out.

As he progressed on the road approaching the hut, he could not believe what he was seeing. The hut was gone. In its place was a beautiful house with trees all around, a swimming pool, several cars in the garage, a satellite dish, and many pointers to a new-found prosperity in the environment. As if that was not enough, he saw some teenagers celebrating  their first million dollars with guests around a barbecue fire.

He was petrified. What could have happened to the family? Without a doubt, they must have been starving to death and forced to sell their land and leave.

Perhaps they had become mendicants begging on the street corners of some city. He approached the house and asked a man about the whereabouts of the family that had lived in a hut in that forlorn environment several years earlier.

“You’re looking at it,” said the man, pointing to the people gathered around the barbecue.


Unable to believe what he was seeing and hearing, the disciple walked through the gate and took a few steps closer to the pool where he recognized their host from several years before. Only now he was strong and confident, the woman was happy, and the children were now nice-looking, grown teenagers.

Dumbfounded, he went over to the man and asked, “What happened? I was here with my teacher a few years ago and this was a miserable place. There was nothing except your family and  a tired cow. What did you do to improve your lives in such a short time?”

The man looked at the disciple, and replied with a smile: “You are right. We had a cow that kept us alive. She was all we had. But the day you visited, she fell down the cliff and died. To survive, we had to learn how to do other things. By that, we were able to discover and develop skills we didn’t even know we had. We were therefore forced to come up with new ways of doing things. The result is that we are now much better off than before.”

Lesson? Comfort is the enemy of progress. Good is the adversary of the best. The greatest antagonism to your progress in 2017 is the ‘success’ you accomplished in 2016. To make significant progress in life, you must learn to move beyond sufficiency before you are pushed into abundance. Whatever chains you to the present cannot launch you into the future!

If where you are is nowhere near where you ought or desire to be, I have one prayer for you in 2017. It is that you or someone else who cares enough about your future would throw the cow that you so heavily rely on for sustenance over the cliff.

Perhaps then you will be able to see the uncharted horizon of endless possibilities that God has placed before you but which your slavish dependence on what you thought was certain had never allowed you to see.

Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!


Source   Nigerian Tribune

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