For one year I worked at Rafter Six Guest Ranch as barn manager, running their trail ride operation. I was responsible for managing the wrangler staff to lead the trail rides and care for the horse herd. We were required to dress in full “cowboy” attire from hat to chaps to spurs, so that atmosphere would be “authentic”. In addition to the guests staying at the lodge, we also had tourist from all over the world come in on bus tours for trail rides and a meal.
One of the little perks the wrangler staff used to do for some of the bus tours was a hold up. As the bus was pulling onto the property, the ranch has about a half mile of curving driveway, we would ride out from behind the bushes, slickers flying, bandanas pulled up, and firing our imitation colt 45’s, forcing the bus to stop. One of us would climb aboard and make some speech about looking for a bandit, and after ensuring he hadn’t stolen away on the bus we welcomed them to the ranch and then rode off at a gallop firing our pistols in the air. It sounds a little corny telling it, but it was actually a lot of fun to do and the tourist loved it.
The only one who didn’t particularly care for it was my horse, Nina. She hated the retort of the pistols. I couldn’t even aim away from her to reduce the noise. To be legal to shoot blanks the barrel had to be plugged so instead of all the sound being directed out the end of the barrel it escaped sideways as it exited the cylinder. It hurt my ears so I understand why she didn’t like it, and she always knew when it was coming. She would be her normal calm self all the way out to where we’d meet the bus, and the whole time we sat in wait. But as soon as she heard the bus coming and we hid ourselves behind the bushes she’d start tensing up and getting all jumpy. When I’d let her go she’d fire out from behind the bush like she was coming out of a bucking chute.
One time she made it half way across the road in one jump and I had to turn her hard, which if you’ve ever rode with metal shoes on pavement you know is not a good idea. Down she went and fortunately I was able to pull my leg out before she landed on it. But I had kept my other foot in the stirrup, so when she scrambled back to her feet I was able to come right up with her. When I boarded the bus the tourists were all in awe, assuming it was all planned and part of the show. Of course I never let on.
I find we can sometimes get like that with God. We anticipate some painful or uncomfortable process to go through and do everything in our power to resist what God has actually designed to strengthen us or grow us and reveal to us more of his power and grace. How much better off we’d be if we would heed the Psalmist; “Be still and know that I am God.”