Push and pull as he might, Ethan could not get the calf to move. The steer was growing fast, and Ethan knew it had to learn to do as it was told if he was going to be able to show it at the fair. The steer stiffened his neck and legs and wouldn’t budge.
Ethan threw down the rope, shut the gate, and left the barn. The calf was bigger than he was now. He would have to think of other tactics.
“Is it going any better?” Ethan’s father asked him as they met at the house.
“Nope.” Ethan shook his head. “I’ve never seen such a stubborn steer!”
Father opened the door to the kitchen. The aroma of simmering vegetables and beef met their nostrils. “That calf will be beef stew sooner than he thinks,” Ethan muttered under his breath.
A while later the whole family was ready for supper and seated around the table. Father opened with prayer. Mother passed the food.
“So what will you do next to try train your calf?” Father asked Ethan.
“I have no idea,” Ethan said. “But I thought of calling him Stew—for beef stew, that is.”
Ethan’s little sister Sarah put her hand over her mouth. His older sister Sybil smiled wryly.
“Yes,” said Father, “I haven’t seen many animals with such a difficult temperament as that one.”
“You just can’t change his mind,” Ethan complained.
Father thought a moment and added, “Some people are like that, too. In fact—” he paused, “I’m guessing we all are like that. We’ll be reading about that for devotions. We’re up to Ezekiel 36. What a miracle it is when God changes our hearts and minds. And he doesn’t have to push and pull us to do it. That’s power. That’s irresistible grace.”
They all opened their Bibles and found the passage. “Start at verse 26,” Father went on. “Listen: ‘A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them…’”
* * *
“…it is evidently a supernatural work, most powerful, and at the same time most delightful, astonishing, mysterious, and ineffable; not inferior in efficacy to creation, or the resurrection from the dead…so that all in whose heart God works in this marvelous manner, are certainly, infallibly, and effectually regenerated, and do actually believe…”
Canons III/IV, Article 12