We agree. don’t we, that a boss doesn’t hire a salesman because he’s handsome, but because he’s an effective salesman. A mother doesn’t spend her time on making the house pretty so her neighbors will be impressed. Rather she creates a home, a refuge, for her husband and children. So Olga, the nanny goat, was comfortably tied to the running board of the Rice Chevy one hot July day in Fort Worth, Texas in 1932.
The John R Rice family, with five little girls, was moving 30 miles east. to Dallas, because Daddy had a deep burden to give the Gospel to the neglected and disenfranchised people in a poor section of Dallas. Baby Joanna, nine months old, was allergic to cow’s milk, so Olga the nanny goat was a necessary part of the move.
As I remember that moving day, my heart aches for Mother. What fears and burdens must have been on her heart as they pulled out of the driveway? Daddy had exactly ten dollars in his pocket, and no immediate prospect of income. She was leaving the safety and comfort of the little brick home Daddy had built with the $500.00 wedding gift of her parents. If they could sell it, they’d have some income, but the country was strangled by the depression and houses were empty everywhere. Mother had no visible security, only Daddy’s integrity and his strong faith that God would supply their needs.
They dropped the house keys by the realtor’s office. Finally they reached the country road that would lead to Dallas. They’d get there before dark, hopefully, if they didn’t have too many flat tires. Mother at last had a moment to check on the children. “Grace, how’s the Baby?” With a gasp nine-year-old Grace stuttered, “Mother, I don’t have the Baby!”
You can imagine the consternation. A quick U-turn. No time to retrieve the house key. Race back to the house. No thought of placing blame. Just rescue the Child. Every window was locked, except for a small kitchen window over the sink. I was five years old, small enough to climb through the small window and old enough to be able to unlock the front door.
What I saw broke my heart. Joanna was sitting on the kitchen floor in a patch of afternoon sunshine. Her tiny fists were beating the air. Her face was smeared with tears and mucus. Her pitiful weeping echoed through the empty rooms. Finally I got the front door open. Mother had her Baby in her arms. And all the time Olga the goat, looked on, unhurried, chewing her cud with that odd sideways movement of her jaw.
Joanna’s sweet personality was not traumatized by her “abandonment.” And let the record show, 90 years later, that the little Rice girls never went hungry for food, and that all our lives we saw God do miraculous things because of Mother’s and Daddy’s deep faith.
But the moral of this true fable, like Aesop’s, is a serious one. In Luke 11:42, Jesus warned the Pharisees of judgment ahead because they neglected what was most important.
But how terrible it will be for you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest part of your income, but you completely forget about justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but you should not leave undone the more important things.
How easy we find it, in the busy-ness of life, to focus on the pressing needs, not the desperately important tasks of life. May God help us to discern, and choose to do, the truly important tasks God has given us to do!.
Sure, bring along the nanny goat. She’s needed. But don’t forget she’s needed only because of the Baby.