It was a fascinating study in contrasts at the county fair. A rugged rancher led his cattle into the corral with shouts, curses, and beatings. The animals were wild-eyed and hard to manage.

Then a girl about 14 led her prize-winning cow in. She spoke softly and reassuringly to the animal, stroking her and pulling gently on the rope. The beautiful holstein walked calmly into the pen.

Hosea the prophet used farm imagery to describe how the Lord leads His people. Referring to Israel’s journey from captivity in Egypt, he said that God “drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love” (Hos. 11:4). God had heard their anguished cries from Egypt. He led them lovingly, as a farm girl leads her cherished colt or prized heifer, to the place of His blessing. But that privileged relationship was about to change. Because of Israel’s obstinate refusal to follow the Lord, He was about to turn them over to those who would oppress them and treat them roughly.

Thank God that He chooses to lead us with “bands of love.” The road we are traveling is often difficult, but His leading is gentle. As we allow the quiet voice of the Spirit to apply God’s Word to our hearts, we will be content.