January 10, 2021

Did you know cows have a pecking order? I am convinced this phrase originated in the observation of chicken behavior, but I'd venture to say that all animals do it. There is an order of hierarchy formed within groups of animals. Some come out on top, others find themselves on the bottom, and the order is usually discovered through fighting or aggression of some sort.

The water tank is a prime spot where the pecking order is expressed. Some cows aren't too good at sharing, and if several think they are thirsty at once there will usually be head-butting and other offensive tactics in the fight for a drink of water. In the photo above, five cows are lined up wanting a drink from the water tank. Marie is on the left, then Stormi, next is Bethel, the solid dark red one is Tabitha, and Marin is on the right. Marie, Bethel, and Marin have horns. Stormi and Tabitha do not. Many of the cows with horns tend to be bullies to their herdmates at times. These three are among the ringleaders. The funny thing is, as I stood and watched, Stormi and Tabitha--with no horns--cowed (pun intended) the other three into submission. And it's not the first time I've witnessed this.

Stormi is our oldest cow, soon to be 15. Tabitha is not too many years behind her. I don't always know what factors play into ultimately establishing a cow's dominance in the herd, because one would think size and horns would be the most likely yet is not always the case. Maybe age is part of it. Perhaps these two old girls just don't put up with any shenanigans the young-uns try to pull. Maybe since they've been around longer, they just have more confidence. Most of the time, a cow with horns easily dominates a cow without them. But there are certain cows that defy this normality. If I had videoed the interaction in this picture, you would have seen Stormi and Tabitha turn their heads towards the encroachers, sometimes slamming their heads into the others' necks to deter them from sticking their heads in the tank alongside them.

I kind of think God is showing me a spiritual principle in this cow story. Sometimes the obvious weapons aren't the ones that win the
battle. And sometimes the ones expected to be the weakest carry the greatest authority. Jesus manifested this. Born as a tiny and dependent baby, he grew up and lived the ultimate life of humility. Yet all authority over all creation lay within him. The incredible thing is, what he received from the Father God is also offered to us! All we have to do is receive what he offers. He takes up residence in our hearts, and as we submit to the transforming work he does within us, he shares his power and authority with us. This is the same power and authority that enabled him to defeat even death!

So Marie, Bethel, and Marin tend to think they are pretty big stuff most of the time, and use those horns to remind many in the herd to respect them and get out of their way when told. But during an up close and personal encounter with Stormi and Tabitha, their horns proved useless because psychologically they had already been defeated. Stormi and Tabitha were not afraid of those horns, presumably because they have an assurance of their authority over these types of weapons. Satan came--and still comes--to steal, kill, and destroy. The weapons of his warfare are designed to elicit fear, confusion, and discouragement. But he was soundly defeated through the death and resurrection of Christ. When you have Jesus Christ within you, his power gives you authority over all Satan's weapons. So take heart, you don't need to be afraid! Remember the most effective weapon you can wield against the real enemy lies within.

Kate Cobb

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