Encouragement for Today
“Some Pigs, a Feast and a Goat Lady”
Marlo Peddycord Francis, Graduate of She Speaks Conference
Luke 15:24, “‘For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” (NIV)
Recently, I was invited to attend a very special dinner being held at a place I had been dying to go for years. The Goat Lady Dairy is a self-sustaining, organic farm. The delicate balance between man and nature is in perfect harmony as all gives their best to create a product of impeccable quality. Each year they host twelve “dinners at the dairy” and within 30 minutes, those dinners completely sell out. This year, it was my turn.
As our SUV turned in, my heart rate increased. It was as beautiful as I had imagined. A hand-hewn banquet hall stood, surrounded by pristine gardens and fruit trees. As I opened my door, the earthy smell of goats filled my nostrils and I was eager to begin the night. As our tour started, the splendor overcame me. In a world where so much seems wrong, this just seemed so right. It was then that we rounded a corner and the scene changed.
The first thing I noticed was the smell. It was pungent and offensive. Then I spotted them – four nasty pigs. Up until this point, the dairy had offered only beauty and fragrant images, but not now. These were not pink little porcine pals … they were stinky, gross hogs with their faces buried in a trough of whey. As the group made clever comments, something imposing began to fill my heart. The story of the Prodigal Son flooded my thoughts, and as I gazed into the pigpen, it was if I could see him there, crouched beside the reeking animals, fighting for his portion of the foul cuisine. I could see his clothes soiled with manure. I could sense his pride – crushed. As he fought for his place amongst the ravenous group, he realized that he had been foolish and arrogant with all that his father had given him. He longed for both the green grass of home, and his father’s embrace. Humbly leaving the pigs, he started back, not knowing what his father’s response would be. We find their reunion in Luke 15: 20-24:
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” (NIV)
The sound of a dinner bell brought me back. The owner said, “Our tour is complete. Now we eat.” For the next two hours, we were treated as royalty. The five-course meal had been meticulously prepared, using only the freshest ingredients. While enjoying the food and fellowship, I could not help but pause and think back to the pigpen. I realized that like the prodigal son, I was once entrenched in the mire of sin. I, too, was forced to eat from the trough of death because of my choices and stubborn will. However, because of God’s grace, I was undeservingly given the opportunity to trade the trough for the table. Jesus willingly took my place on
Once again, I was brought back to reality as the host emerged from the kitchen – laden with hand-rolled truffles and blueberry pie. As delicious as every bite had been up until this point, the best was yet to come and I was ready to indulge. A few hours later, a rather stuffed me climbed into bed and replayed the events of the day one more time before turning out the light. Along with an amazing experience in-and-of-itself, my long-awaited trip to the dairy had proven to be a beautiful reminder of God’s grace, and the undeserved feast to which we, as Christians, are given access. And like the dessert, the best is yet to come.
My Prayer for Today:
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you so much for offering us Your dining table in place of the trough. Thank You for running to meet us and for clothing us with the righteous robe of Christ’s blood. Help us today to search our hearts and make sure we belong to you. Help us to purpose afresh to live like children of God and to be sensitive to those around us that might still be living in the pigpen. May our actions and testimonies lead them straight to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Set aside some time in the coming week to relive your walk from the pigpen to the green grass of home. Take time to thank God, once again, for His love and willingness to forgive your foolishness and rebellion.
If you have never taken the time, sit down and write out your testimony in detail. Pray that God will give you the opportunity to share it with someone who needs to hear about your journey.
Never forget that we have all eaten out of the trough. Ask God to make you sensitive to those still struggling to find the way home. Ask Him to make you accessible and usable … and then watch for opportunities to share your story with others.
Do I take my restoration to God for granted?
Have I forgotten what it is like to be in the pigpen of sin? Have I let myself become callous to God’s grace?
Do I seek out opportunities to help show others the way home?
Am I ready to share my testimony if given no forewarning that the opportunity is coming?
Am I prepared to meet God on the day of the feast?
Luke 9:23-24, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it.” (NIV)
Luke 12:32, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” (NIV)
Luke 15:4-7, “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open county and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (NIV)
Romans 5:1-2, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into the grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” (NIV)
Do You Know Him?
Coming Out of the Dark, by Mary Southerland
Who Holds the Key to Your Heart, by Lysa TerKeurst
Originally published Wednesday, 13 July 2005.