God is like a Cosmic Cowboy

God a Cosmic CowboyThe following comes from an email that was sent in to me through the “Contact Me” form on the right sidebar. I asked the sender if I could post it on this blog for others to respond to, and was given permission.

If you were talking to someone, and they said something like this, what would you say?

Most days I feel like I’m being herded. By the church. By politicians. By my job.

Especially by God.

God is like a cosmic cowboy herding me toward certain death, and I am the only one who seems to know it. I keep telling myself that I’m wrong. That this cowboy God can be trusted. But I’ve heard rumors about where he leads cows, and I’m not sure I’m going to like it. I certainly don’t like it now.

He pushes and prods me in one direction, which is a direction I don’t want to go. So far it’s been nothing but dust and barren, windswept landscapes.

Behind me is the clear water, cool shade, and green grass. Why couldn’t I have stayed there? Now I’m surrounded only by tumbleweed, gritty sand, and glaring sun.

God herding cows

I don’t mind if the cowboy is leading me to greener pastures. You know, Psalm 23 and all that. But it’s been ten years of desert so far, and there is no end in sight. I can’t go back, because I don’t know the way. But if I have to stay here in this desert till I die, well, the slaughterhouse is preferable to that…

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I wandered off into the woods to die.

Can I trust God? I mean really trust Him?

If so, how come it seems like He’s playing some game with my life? Like God is playing Russian roulette, but it’s my head at which the pistol is pointed?

So what would you say? The person said they would read the comments, but would probably not respond.

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  1. Shawn Lazar says

    Here’s what I tell myself whenever I have thoughts like that.

    Tell them to stop being so self-centered and selfish. Tell them to get some perspective on their lives by comparing whatever their situation is with a six-year old orphan in the middle of war torn Somalia, who has nowhere to sleep, nothing to eat, and no one to care for them. Imagine being six and having to get the wherewithal to care for yourself, to scrounge up some food, to eek out some kind of life with war and famine all around! I can’t even imagine it.

    So if this person is just using “starvation” and “death” as metaphors, and they aren’t actually experiencing the horrors of starving or dying like the kids in Somalia, then its pretty selfish to describe their life as if they were being punished. That six-year-old would probably trade lives with them in a second and praise God for it! So if they start being thankful to God, rather than grumbling, that might change from barrenness to joy.

  2. Stephen Butler says

    Shawn, you said, “Here’s what I tell myself whenever I have thoughts like that” and then you say “Tell them.” I think, while you are quite correct on what you have said, it could be said with more grace and sensitivity. Just my opinion. From 15 years in pastoral ministry (and personal battles) I have learned that there are some valleys that are so deep that it takes all the love and mercy we can provide for the despairing and lonely. Also, if you read Glorious Ruin by Tullian Tchividjian, you will find that he makes the case that it is not correct for us to judge our suffering by someone else’s. Every valley that we go through is as important as another’s valley. So, while you are right that we can’t begin to imagine the suffering of Somali children, I also think that we have to be sensitive to the seemingly trivial needs of others.

  3. Shawn Lazar says

    Stephen, you’re right, I’m not a pastor. That’s just what I tell myself. Won’t fit every situation.

    But I would add this. Some of the valleys that we think are so deep are entirely created in our own minds. We think its a big deal. We think its overwhelming. We think its the end of the world. And all the while, we’re dead wrong, and just being darn ungrateful. We’re like the Israelites in the wilderness. Grumbling when we should be praising. We let feelings overrule the facts. And instead of waking us up to our lack of gratitude for the many blessings we actually do enjoy, we have ourselves a pity party, and look for people to enable our self-pity.

    That requires a kick in the pants.

    But I fully admit this person might actually be going through something quite serious, in which case grace and hugs are in order!

  4. says

    I would say this man has found favour in the eyes of God. It is stated here that He knows it is God who allows Him to go through this wild turbulent desert.

    We all don’t know the exact reasons for God’s doing but He has something great in store for this person.

    Job was tested and suffered terribly but God rewarded him even more than he had in the first place. God made Abraham leave his comfortable life to go through the desert to reach the promised land. Moses was in the desert for so many years before He was called to save God’s people.

    God might want you to be detached of all things and draw you ever more closer to Him. When you are empty and broken of all your past securities, it is when God can fill you and re-mould you into what you are meant to be.

    Remember the vineyard parable? Each branch that does not bear fruit God will cut away. Imagine if the fruit has nerves and feelings like us. Wouldn’t it be painful? Same goes to us. He wants to prune us to perfection. He would not bother if He does not love you.

    Don’t forget Jesus went through the desert and then suffered terribly too but through the cross, He saved the whole world. He asked that His disciples take up the cross to follow Him. Perhaps He is asking the same of you. Do not be afraid of the cross in sufferings.

    Hang in there buddy! Wait upon the Lord, commit your ways to Him and He will give you the desires of your heart.

    I would say trust in Him, totally in full abandonment to His will. God loves you very much.

  5. Harold Shuckhart says

    You are losing your faith because of doubt. The preachers would tell you to lose your doubt and believe no matter what. I think it would be better to keep your doubt and let go of your faith. Try taking a few minutes and imagine that God does not exist – you are only here until you die – what is important is family, friends and being good to one another. Then extend the time. Eventually, you will be free of the superstitions that have held humanity back for far too long.

  6. says

    Most certainly, and without any doubt whatsoever about it, you can trust God.

    Jesus Christ came to show us that doing right, in any and every circumstance, is the secret to connection with God.

    You can find peace and joy by trusting God and doing good – even in the face of evil.

    The constant salvation that Jesus promises us is of our souls, not of our circumstances. Like Him, we can have peace IN every circumstance, not peace BECAUSE OF every circumstance.

    Be still in your heart, and know that He is God. Indeed, we are like beasts before Him, but, that being the case, let us be like docile lambs and not like wild animals.

    He is a gentle Shepherd. If we find ourselves chafing under His hand, it can only be because we are resisting and fighting Him. People (including church people) will indeed ride herd on you, but Jesus will gently say, “Come, follow Me.” The way of the cross is the way to glory.

    Trust in the Lord and do good. He will not disappoint you.

  7. Tony Vance says

    God will allow your temporary comfort to be jilted to bless your eternal good. He came to give life and more abduntly.

    Herding us toward death, no, leading us to life. Is this world your final destination, God forbid, a better place he went to prepare.

    Trust the one who has your eternal good at heart, not your temporary comfort.

  8. Chris says

    Interesting perspective. Breaks my heart to hear it. I would say you have created a false god in your mind and don’t know The God of the Bible. Read it daily and pray that The Holy Spirit gives you understanding. The Bible does not promise a country club life, in fact it promises the opposite. The mortality rate on earth has always been 100%. God gives us free will to follow Him or reject Him. The world and Satan would have you believe in the temporal things of this world and of the flesh. True life, eternal life is gained by one way, through God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Repent and Trust in The Lord Jesus Christ, then obey His commands.

  9. Joy says

    Friend–and I hope it’s okay to call you that–this is beautiful. Your craft of words is poignant and heart-achingly deep. I feel like after that, the thing to do isn’t to immediately jump in with my own words. Your questions are hard and deep and real, so the answers must be equally as hard and deep and real. They aren’t necessarily readily available.

    If you say this to me, I want to just sit with you, like Job’s friends should have done, and feel your pain and cry your tears. With that, I want you to know you are asking the right questions. God is big enough to handle those questions, so please, friend, keep on asking them until you come to a resting place, and then keep going still until you’re finally satisfied, even if that doesn’t happen this side of glory. Because we aren’t actually cattle, or slaves, but the friends of Christ. And friends have the right to stand up and say, “Hey! I’m not sure you’re leading me right! And I don’t like where we are now!” and to expect an answer back.

    I know what the desert feels like in my own life. I know it hurts so bad, and I love you as a brother or sister in the struggle. I hope you know, really know, that you are wonderful and full of dignity and worth. Be yourself, dear heart, and resist against the herders. We have a long legacy and cloud of witnesses behind us who have wrestled against God and even won! God doesn’t crush us for resisting. When he answered Job, he bade him to stand and face him like a man, giving him dignity. And he promises that those who keep on asking do receive, so cling to that promise and throw it back at God when you need to.

    May God taste sweet to you again, my friend. May he show you still waters and quiet streams, and may it happen soon.

  10. Taco says

    My English is shitty so forgive me if my reply sounds strange some times.

    You give us a glipms of how you feel right now in your way to God. We don’t know what these green pastures are that you’ve left behind. You try to show us how you feel right now and the vision you have for your future.

    One thing I can say from experience is that my believe in God and what’s been tolled about him has had many hits from other people surrounding me from church to good willed friends and atheists who perfectly can point out why there is no such thing as a god. And even from how I think/thought about Him and how I think about myself and my sin that stands in my way but I keep doing.

    Still I am not the one who want to look back and say it was better then. It looks like it was better then but was it really? Or have I grown? Grown in doubt about God, man, theology, myself? Or have I just grown up?

    I would love to have a conversation with you face to face, because most of the time that is the only way to really grow out of something. Even the internet is full of stuff and people that help you fire up the doubt.
    And because you don’t want to respond to the stuff written here, there is no communication possible on this blog reply’s.

    If you want to hit me up on Skype that would be fine, my Skype id is: missions4ever

    Love you,

  11. Buster says

    The insanity of the mystical… That’s how I worded it in the comment section of another blog here. You’ll have Christians come around you who tell you God is leading you, and back it up with Bible verses and maybe stories of personal experience, and then you’ll have others who say God is not leading you, and back it up with Bible verses and stories of personal experience. Maybe sometimes you “feel” like he is leading you, and maybe sometimes you “feel” like he isn’t. Who knows? When we try to assign meaning to things based on reasoning that has no definitive link to an objective reality, anything goes.

    I’m sorry for what you’re feeling. I know what it’s like. I’m very close to what Harold said, though I wouldn’t call myself a full blown atheist. I eventually stopped caring and wondering about what is or isn’t God and how I might know. The constant and ever changing explanations, and lack of a definitive explanation exhausted me. It’s much easier just to live and not speculate.

    For me, there’s two ways of going through this world, we live and draw conclusions based on things which can be verified, or we operate and make decisions based on reasoning that can never be validated. Ideas have living consequences. I find that only one way of coming to conclusions is truly safe and offers real certainty. The temptation of the other is mostly its emotional appeal.

    Life sucks sometimes. That’s reality. Change what you can, accept what you can’t. Do the best you can to enjoy it. The only thing we know for sure is here and now. We might be the only meaning that exists, so live a meaningful life. Try not to let the quality of your life be wasted or stolen from you. Good luck. Be strong.

  12. Buster says

    In all fairness, I think there may be a way to avoid the insanity of mysticism without turning away from faith. I’m not really comfortable encouraging you or anybody else to consider moving away from faith, as I’m here primarily by default, not because this is where I really desire to be. I do however think good thinking, no matter the context, is of the utmost importance. It’s our only safeguard.

    That said, there’s a few possibilities to reconcile Christianity that still appeal to me very much, which I haven’t fully thought through yet. But, if one reviews the evidence for the consistency and inspiration of Scripture, along with the evidence for the existence, death, and resurrection of Christ, and is convinced, then one can be a Christian based on good reason.

    What I’m trying to get at is that I think it *may* be possible for one to come to a literal acceptance of the Bible for good reasons, assuming those reasons exist, and if this is the case, then the Bible itself would become the standard by which you measure your experience to determine if what you’re feeling or thinking is really God or not.

    The key of course is ensuring your understanding of Scripture is as close to accurate as possible. People have different interpretations, but it makes sense that there’s only one right one that’s correct, right? It’s like our constitution; the key I guess is in determining original intent, or as close to it as possible, and then figuring out how that may apply to us today.

    I’m thinking out loud, so forgive me if it’s not all adding up… I want to think this through some more as it appeals to me as a possible way to reconcile some of my doubts.

  13. Wendy says

    Stop listening to politicians. To quote the Micheal Jackson “all I got to say is that they don’t catch the stories that matter and ereally care about us”. Don’t give them even an iota of presence in your life. I rarely watch the news. Guess what? I still manage to hear the small stories that matter and don’t have to waste my time on the big ones that are only chatter. Just like reading beauty magazines make everyone feel ugly news tends to play to people’s fears and makes them feel powerless. It’s designed to do that. When I realized the government is far from our friend they couldn’t drive me.

    Sometimes Not much can be done about your job, but heck When it’s time to go its time to go. you just have to decide when and if a possible. A pay cut to get out of a horrid job is quite worth it I have found. I know sometimes it’s immpossible, but sometimes we have luxuries that can be excised from our lives that we only think are needed. Just as an example in my house we just use an antenea for tevision instead of expensive satellite or cable. To compensate get hulu or netflix. Or Even both is still much cheaper. Wifi can be really cheap if you look around. Things like that really shave dollars off a budget.

    Nobody has ever held a gun to my head a forced me to sit In a church. I I don’t find God there very often anyway. If you feel pressured to be or guilty for not being there In all honesty I think men are driving you to the desert under the Guise of God and you have been hoodwinked.

    Indulge me for a minute with this one, but Jesus never called us cows….you are not a Cow that He whips and drives where He wants you. You are a sheep. A sheep is watched over, led, tended to, allowed rest.

    If you find yourself leaving church feeling guilty I mean bad like you gotta fix yourself up for God to accept you you are being guided by men. If you feel pressure to get something done for God or else he might “get you” you are being driven by religion not God. If you think if you can just do something right or if you stop doing something you will be allowed to rest in green pastures doctrine is swinging that whip on your backside not God. If these are true discuss these matters with I suppose Jeremy, but I would suggest disconnecting from organized religion for awhile and seek God as am individual. It’s may be possible you have only encountered theology and never meant Him. That’s not meant as a slight. I thought I knew him for many many years as I ran through that same desert you are in presently.

    • says

      Beautiful points. I completely agree. It is so liberating to disconnect from religion as a way to reconnect with God. It is then that He begins to truly show Himself or who He really is.

  14. Stephanie says

    The thing is, God doesn’t tell you what to do he gives you freedom of choice. If you are feeling herded then maybe you have misinterpreted God with Satan. God certainty doesn’t poke and prod at you that would take away the freedom he gives us. I know my parents have had 25 years of hardships, but what keeps them going is faith in God. Their is sin on this earth, it is not prefect. Everyone seems to blame God for whatever their problem is, if He is not real whats the point of a discussion. My perspective is God has Unconditional love, even if you think He has left you. He will always be by your side. Look up. He is waiting patiently.

    • says

      Yes, Stephanie. This post is quite old, and in recent years, I have begun to see the truth of what you are saying. Nevertheless, don’t you think God has a goal and plan for our lives, and uses events in life to encourage us to move in that direction?

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