Jessica was leaving the livestock scale, walking back toward the pigpens. As she approached, I was trying to decipher the look on her face. Sadly, her eyes met mine as she reported, “270 pounds.” It was officially devastating.
It had been a fun-filled day getting to this point with some of our favorite friends. My children, Jessica and Cory, had raised hogs for 4H. We had laughed our way through the morning – not only packing up ourselves- but driving house to house loading up the eight pigs that would be entered in the fair.
Getting pigs to cooperate in any way, shape or form- let alone walk straight into the back of a trailer- can prove to be very entertaining. One of our friend’s hogs put on quite a show as it charged back and forth escaping our grasp. We chuckled while chasing it, redirecting it back to the goal.
The kids had worked hard over the last four months preparing for this day. Pigs have to weigh between 200-260 pounds to qualify for this fair. Mind you, they can gain 20 pounds a week and lose 10 pounds a day if under stress. It is rather a game to get them to the target weight.
Eddie had really researched the best approach to take, talking to many friends and experts in the field. Jessica’s pig seemed to be right on schedule. The last month as her pig started to climb rapidly in pounds, she- along with Ed- made the needed adjustments to be sure the animal would not be too big.
We weighed her pig, Kevin, at home before leaving for the fair. He weighed 270, ten too much. Eddie tentatively felt it would be okay. Everyone had assured us that the hogs would drop 10-15 pounds traveling the hour to the event.
Kevin did not drop an ounce. We were completely baffled, especially after hearing how another pig in our group lost 30 lbs. over the last twenty-four hours.
A few of us gathered around Jess, offering comfort as best we could. Not only would her hog have to leave the swine barn immediately, she would not be allowed to participate in all the planned activities. There were to be two days of different showmanship events, concluding with an auction on the third day- which is the most anticipated time of the week. AND… to top it all off… it was Jessica’s birthday!
As all the ramifications began to hit me, especially the one of not being able to sell the pig- I noticed a friend of Jessica’s making her way over. Bridgett is a wonderful young lady who has experienced having a pig not make weight. She approached Jessica and said the most profound words… “Well, Jess, it’s all part of the journey.”
That struck a chord in me as I began to make all kinds of spiritual and practical applications. We are all on a journey where the only thing we can actually control is our response to it- our attitude and our faith. Bridgett was encouraging Jess to embrace the adventure, hang on and see what happens.
Jessica had some options with how to respond. She possibly could blame her dad, questioning his methods or she could choose to trust that Eddie would work this out. Also, she was now stuck at the fair for the next five days with no pig to show, watching her friends participate in everything she would miss. Depression or poutiness could easily be a natural response.
Isn’t it the same with us when our journey takes us to an unexpected place? Questioning God. Blaming God. Becoming depressed. Angry. With each twist in the road there is opportunity to express faith in our Heavenly Father.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” That is the ultimate verse on faith. God plans to give us hope and a future. How much do we trust Him when it appears things are not working out? Do we believe what the verse says? God knows the plan. All we need to know is that He knows. He knows the plan, the journey.
So… while it is “all part of the journey,” – it is really all about HOW we journey. HOW are you doing?
And… just to tell you the rest of the story… Jessica’s attitude was exceptional. She cheered on her friends, even stating that she was glad it happened to her and not to Cory. A few times she acknowledged she felt sad, but she knew that her dad would work something out.
Eddie did find a buyer for “Kevin.” It was somewhat miraculous in that the buyer was willing to pay a good price for the pig, which meant Jess actually made a nice profit. Makes me think of the “all things work together for good” verse!