The Cattle on A Thousand Hills

February 9, 2015

The story goes that when Dallas Theological Seminary opened, it faced tremendous financial problems to the point of nearly closing in bankruptcy. One day, the faculty gathered to pray that God would provide. Harry Ironside, one of the lecturers at the Seminary, prayed this prayer from Psalm 50:10: “Lord we know you own the cattle on a thousand hills. Please sell some of them, and send us the money.”

The legend continues to explain that during that prayer meeting, the secretary to the President of the Seminary knocked on the door and handed them a check that had just come in. Some stories say that it was from a businessman, but others say it was from a cattle rancher in Texas. Regardless, apparently in that moment, God answered Harry’s prayer by “selling some cattle.”


Sometimes God sells a herd of cattle all at once. Sometimes he sells one at a time. 

It’s always interesting to me that no matter how much older I get, money is at the heart of much anxiety. Not just for me. For many of us. I used to think it was idolatrous. I suppose sometimes it was for me, but I don’t necessarily believe that anymore. I think the realities of living in a world that costs money just eventually wears you down.

This has been especially true on my son’s medical journey.

Both husband and I have always been very good with money. Budgeting, saving, all the things you are told to do. So when our son got sick, we were ready. We had the funds we needed. We were going to treat this and get through it and be done and by the time he turned 4, we would be back on track to saving up again.

We were quite naïve.

There’s a special mercy in being naïve, but when that naiveté is ripped apart, the harsh realities are… well, harsh. So, money has become a concern, hearing each day the drip, drip, drip, of finances draining from our accounts. And when the reality dawned that no, our son would not be well in a year, the drips started to sound more like a deluge.

And thus began another area of stretching. Because for me, and maybe for you too, financial security and freedom has always been a desire. Especially when we have worked hard, gone to school, gotten the degrees, started successful careers and the like. In some ways, when I’m at my lowest point, it feels very unfair to me that we would be draining our saving and future for a child who will eventually be well, but time seems to have stood still in that recovery while the bank account draining has sped up. Doesn’t seem right or fair at all.

But it’s not about fair. It’s about reality. It’s about living in a world where things happen and other things happen and before you know you are being stretched to trust that God will provide even for that bill.

I confessed to my husband several months ago that I had never really had to trust God for financial help. Sure, once in awhile, but it wasn’t life or death I was dealing with. Little did I know that a few months later, God would be stripping me of even that experience and offering me a new one.

But God has been faithful so far in providing what is needed for Ian’s medical care. The costs grow higher and higher, but thus far, God has given us the surprise of a random check in the mail, a hollowed-out pumpkin near Halloween with a bag of cash in it, a welcome gift from a church community. God has not yet sold a whole herd of cattle for us (please, oh, please, oh, please God!), but he’s sold them one at a time in bits and pieces, while we still scrimp and pinch and cut our budget as bare as it can go.

And in this, God is teaching me something. He’s teaching me two things actually: 1) he’s teaching me what it is like to truly trust that he is the Provider, the one who gives to his children, the one who gladly walks us to the next things and teaches us to believe that he does indeed own the cattle on a thousand hills… and that he’s more than willing to part with some on our behalf.

And 2) God is teaching me what it is like to lean hard on the shoulders of others. Countless times I have called for prayer and you, dear friends, have answered. Countless times I have called out for support, and you, dear friends, have come running. We have hundreds of people who are praying for this little miracle boy who graces my home- people who have never met Ian are praying for him. Caring for him. Loving him. It has been… phenomenon. Wordlessly phenomenal. I confess that in the past it was hard for me to lean hard on others. I didn’t mind people leaning on me, but it was hard for me to lay back into the hands of fellow companions and press in knowing their hands could carry me. This has been new for us.

And so we are pressing again. Into the hands of the God who tends his herds on the hills, and into the hands of you friends who have shown up time after time after time.

We have started a fund for our son. We want to be able to take him to a specialist in Texas to figure out why he keeps getting these infections in his gut. So far, despite all our testing, our medical team has not been able to figure out why or how to stop it. By no means do you need to contribute. I am simply glad that you read my writing from time to time!

But if you feel that you could help us out, if you feel that you have been touched by our story in some way that prompts you to act in this particular fashion, we welcome your gifts. We welcome you. We welcome everyone in watching to see how God provides for us this time.

If you would like to contribute: Ian’s Medical Journey 

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