For a year now I have carried a small journal in my right hip pocket. I use it to jot down thoughts and spiritual meanderings that cross my mind throughout the day. Of course the most fertile time is in the morning when I am reading the Word and “pondering” the truths I never suspected until revealed by the Father through His Holy Spirit.
I am surprised when I review the truths that shook me just weeks before. Often I no longer see them as earth shattering. Once I questioned whether I was becoming insensitive to the Father. Was I requiring Him to “top” what happened in my time with Him just the day before? Had I become a “Spiritual junkie,” always looking for that next undiscovered nugget so I could trot it out when I wanted to prove to others how blessed they were to have me in their circle.
Gee, those folks make me tired. Had I become no better that the ones that pestered me?
It seems the Word often takes us down familiar roads, pointing out new landmarks. How many times had Jesus walked past Solomon’s porch, never stopping to heal the man waiting for “the Angel to trouble the water?” And why, this day above all others, had He stopped and set this man free from his bondage.
There are theological reasons taught by those who spent years learning Greek just so they could figure out the “why’s and wherefores” on issues like that.
After having my waters troubled for some time, and no one showing up that could put me into the middle of the question so that I could “reason” it out, the Holy Spirit assured me I was not becoming stale. He gave me to understood that any insight sent me through the Word was because it was needed for whatever part of my journey I found myself walking.
I have often taken out old maps just to see where I have been. I enjoyed the memories of acres of Texas Blue Bonnets, the pounding surf, or beauty of a prong-horned antelope bounding across the Texas prairie. But though the memories of that moment were sharp and able to take me back to days gone by, I didn’t quite feel it the same way.
It is like my memories of Jim Fowler taking me on my first legal quail hunt (There’s story best forgotten!). The dogs had gone past a couple of quail in the brush. As I walked up to the clump of weeds, my focused attention on the dogs was shattered by those birds exploding from the ground almost between my feet. I promptly discharged both shotgun shells into the ground.
Memories are for remembering. They are best sampled along with a healthy dose of today. They define where we have been, but they are intended to push us into tomorrow.
I am glad to have these hip-books. They remind me that the Father is always at work around me and is inviting me to not be a spectator, but a willing, energetic, and fully engaged participant.
On my most recent trip back home to Texas I stopped to photo these longhorns.
Written eyewitness accounts of the 1850s and later talk about these animals, rangy and acclimated to hard living on the grasses of Texas and bugs that infest almost everything. They were wild, territorial, and not the most hospitable to the thought of being roped and pulled from the brush they called home.
My experience with this particular steer proved the reports of their cantankerous nature to be true. Notice the particular focus of attention this outfit has on me?
My original idea was to get up to the fence and take a few shots with my digital camera as they grazed. This one turned around and decided to come over and check me out.
I’ve been around cattle and didn’t really think there was anything wrong as it came over. In fact, I thought it was great to get a couple of real close-ups. The problem was that when he got to the fence, he decided to use that spread of horns to push on the fence so he could get a closer look at me.
I know enough about cattle to know that a wire fence is just a suggestion as to where the pasture is if the bovine decides it is in his way. And this one was acting like the fence that separated us was nothing more than an irritation. I decided to retreat.
As I sat in my car and watched this fellow rejoin his compatriots, I wondered about having to drive a herd from Texas to Sedalia, MO. I’ve pushed a few head, but nothing as malevolent looking as a bunch of unhappy beeves with a spread of horns approaching six and seven feet or more.
We probably don’t know what we are getting into when we let press releases determine our plans. Advertisers list their products and the benefits. Vacation companies talk about cruises and culture. Even dating sites claim to open the doorway to happiness and earthly bliss.
We have to be very careful that when we approach the fence that the opportunity on the other side does not turn out to be whole lot more than we bargained for.
The biblical hero Sampson began his fall when he started believing his own PR. He started to believe that he was unreachable, invincible and completely beyond the scope of mere mortals. The scripture proved true. Pride does precede a fall and he fell as hard as anyone.
How different was the story of the three young men who chose to trust God rather than bow down and worship the image of the King. Trussed up like a calf at a roping, they were thrown into a furnace so hot it killed the men that threw them in.
Believing God, they survived this man-made course of destruction. When they emerged from the fire, the ropes were gone, their bodies and clothes weren’t so much as singed.
How might life had changed for Sampson had he chosen to believe not in the promise made by his mother, but the Lord, the one she made the promise to?
Regardless the challenges we find ourselves in, we must remember the Father loves us and desires us to be not just safe, but at peace in his presence. We will learn to trust in him and not just the suggestion of peace and protection or a flimsy wire fence.
Minnesota Cowboy Ministries has produced our first new video. The photos and video portions were taken on a trip back to my hometown of Bay City, Texas in December, 2008.
One day mom and I decided to do a bit of sightseeing. Neither of us had been to the beach in several years so we decided that would be a great place to start. After crossing the Intercoastal Canal, we followed the Colorado River as it made its way to Matagorda Beach and the Gulf of Mexico. When we were within a couple of miles of the mouth, we came across a cattle drive.
Each year a local rancher moves his cattle to winter grazing on Matagorda Island. It takes up to a week to move the cattle into position before he swims the herd across the river. This is something the ranchers never advertise. If they did, the road would be lined with folks and the whole thing would end up in a mess.
What an event as Mom and I watched something I’ve wanted to experience since a boy. We watched the cattle swim the Colorado, barely a quarter of a mile from the Gulf of Mexico.
This event has happened each year in some form or another since the middle 1800s, and probably longer than that. For several years my dad, Alfred Schaal, accompanied the cowboys for several days to make sure the windmills that powered the watering tanks were working.
As the video starts you will see the cowboys gather the cattle and prepare to push for the river. (Of course, real Texans say “fixin’ to push, but you get the picture.) At his signal, the trail boss ordered the cowboys to rally the herd and put them in a fast walk, if not a trot.
As they got to the river’s edge, the cattle turned back and started to mill. The cowboys cut the herd into three pots and pushed the first into the river. The other two groups went across with little to no argument.
In one of the last photos, you can see a single cow along side a “john boat.” She decided this was not fun and just short of the other side, she turned around and started back. Had the cowboys not turned her again and pulled her to the shore, she would have drowned. There’s a word from the Father in that, isn’t there?
The music that accompanies the video was written and recorded by a supporter of Minnesota Cowboy Ministries. The chorus captures what we stand for. I am pleased that we will be able to use this as a theme for our ministry.
We remember the Father wants each of us to be “Riding For The Brand.”
To view the video go to our website at www.mncowboyministries.org. The link is on the first page.