The Year 2021 and the Buffalo

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When I was a child, growing up with my adopted family, and mealtime would come along, we were taught to eat all our food. When mealtime was over, I would play with my neighborhood friends, I had fun with them and enjoyed their presence. The more the better. As I grew up and met my biological Indigenous family, I learned about my fellow people. Some of the facts of our history I had learned in school, but most of the facts I learned came later in life. 

One of the aspects that I have come to appreciate is that the Indigenous People of Canada and the Native North Americans in the U.S. used to make use of every part of the Buffalo when they hunted and killed one. This got me thinking of spiritual matters in relation to making the most of what is before us.

When we study history with regards to making use of the buffalo in Canada and the United States, we see every part of the buffalo being used for something. That included using the fat for mixing pemmican, which was a mixture of fat, meat, and berries to eat. Using the ribs for hunting tools and sleds in the wintertime. Using the hides for tipi covers and clothing. Using the horns for eating and drinking utensils. Even the dung was used for keeping their fires going. This animal was used for so many purposes and then some people got greedy and killed off the buffalo in vast numbers, which is a lesion for another day.

As we enter another year, there will be many people, including believers, making new year's resolutions. Some of those resolutions might include reading the Bible more, praying more, or being involved with more ministry. As a Bible teacher who does the work of a pastor, I have often said in many new-year messages that if we are faithful to the way God wants us to live, there would be no need to wait until the new year to promise to make changes. Making smaller changes more often is more practical, more biblical and much more realistic and manageable.

Ephesians 5: 8-20 shows us that we must find out what pleases God through Jesus Christ, because we once were darkness, but now we are light. There are so many ways to be rebellious against God, so we need to make the most of our time and our resources. We need to focus on lifting each other up instead of a life of rebellion against God. Why? Because the Lord’s will is to make the most of what we have while we have it. 

We are to be careful how we live and use every aspect of our opportunities to move the kingdom of God forward. If we are filled with the Spirit of God, we will make the most of what is before us and not waste our resources and opportunities. We won’t waste the symbolic buffalo that is before us.

When I reflect on the historical use of the buffalo by my fellow Indigenous and Native North American People, it draws me even closer to my love of the Scriptures. Scripture talks about the same topic, but always takes it several steps further. Its emphasis in Ephesians 5:8-20 is on us as believers once being darkness, but now being light. Its emphasis is on staying away from evil. Its emphasis is on being filled with the Spirit of God. Its emphasis is on making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. Its emphasis is on lifting each other up, and on giving thanks.

As we start a new year, let’s be reminded of using every part of whatever symbolic buffalo is staring you in the eye right now. Making use of every part of the buffalo was one of the ways Indigenous People and Native North Americans survived and thrived. Let’s learn from that and learn from Scripture and what Paul talks about in Ephesians. The best way to enter a new year is to be reminded about how to make the most of what God has already given us and be faithful with that. You’ll be surprised what you can do with what you have already and then wait in anticipation about what God wants to do next.

About the Author

Parry Stelter is a originally from Alexander First Nation in Alberta, Canada (Treaty Six Territory) and is doctoral candidate with Providence University and Seminary. Specializing in Contextual Leadership. He is an active member of Hope CRC in Stony Plan, AB, Canada. He’s a guest speaker and offers a variety of workshops. Visit his website at wordofhopeministries.ca to learn more about this ministry.

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