I was recently in a church meeting and had the opportunity to learn from a great man. I'd like to share his story and its important moral with you:
"When I was a young man of about twelve years, I bought my first milk cow. I named her Sue, after a Johnny Cash song. Sue brought me pride: I milked her every night and morning, faithfully bringing the milk to the house without fail, careful not to let anything get in the bucket.
After a few months, Sue started to dry up. Before long there was no milk. This was not pleasing to my mother, who was trying to feed four growing boys and my sister. When we ran short on fresh milk she would sometimes substitute powdered milk, although I insisted it tasted like ground chalk, and when given to calves would immediately give them the scours.
One day my mother developed a new idea. She came to me and asked, 'Bill, don't you have a cow that just calved?' I didn't really own this cow, it had just wandered into the yard one morning. Evidently this cow was so wild no one wanted to claim her. My mother insisted, 'tomorrow morning you will start milking it and bring the milk to the house.'
The next morning I struggled with the cow, but was finally able to get her into the barn. I roped her back legs together, pulled over my stool, and began to milk. I thought 'this isn't so bad. Evidently you can turn any cow into a milk cow.' I still remember as she turned her head back, looking right at me, a plot in her mind. Just then she started to buck and the rope came loose on her legs. I tried fervently to balance myself on the one legged stool and keep the milk bucket upright. When it all came to a stop the cow had one foot inside the milk bucket. I weighed my options: carefully spill the milk and face the wrath of my mother and chalky milk, or hold on until the old cow takes her foot out of the bucket. Wanting to live a long life, I chose the later.
After the cow finally lifted her hoof out of the milk I stuck my hand in there and dredged out some of the straw and other filth that was at the bottom of the bucket. I hauled it back to the house and strained it the best I could into the gallon jug.
The next morning as I came into the kitchen I saw my younger brothers eating some cereal which mom had bought at the local store. In the middle of the table was the milk jug. I noted about four inches of sludge, from the previous mornings rodeo, had settled to the bottom. My brothers offered me some cereal and were confused when I told them I was feeling a little lactose intolerant that morning.
I've learned that life is like a bucket of barnyard milk: you can stay up on top with the Lord's cream, or you can drink at the bottom with the devil's dredges. Happiness and joy are at the top with the Lord, misery and discomfort are at the bottom. Don't go into the dark; do what is right. The challenge of life is to stay close to the Lord by obeying his commandments. All of us sometimes fall short of perfection and sin. Thank goodness there is hope through repentance. This is the journey our lives. Be true to yourself. Be valiant and Christ-like. Don't drink from the bottom of the bucket."