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Out Our Way: Doc's take on things

Genesis 1:1


“I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.”

Out our way, horse sense theology just sort of fits the scenery, especially in spring. I recall riding to an overlook in the Bear Paws that held a special place for me. You followed an old jeep trail a few hundred yards and then took off over the wild grass and past the scrub pines until you came to the end of the ridge. There was a valley down below, and across the way more pines and hills rising into the Bear Paw range. It was a quiet place and a good place just to sit on a rock and think.

I dismounted and let the reins fall so Doc could graze to his heart’s content while I gazed to my heart’s content.

“Look at all this grass,” I thought. “Why did God create it?”

“For me,” mumbled Doc as he enjoyed the bounty.

“Oh, yeah,” I snickered. “And why did God create you?”

“For you,” he calmly responded as he enjoyed his graze.

“Well, why did He create me?” I challenged.

Just then a pickup truck and a few campers drove by on the side road near my camp. Goliath looked up and said, “For them.”

And me, being the smart guy, I said, “Yeah, well whom did God create them for?”

And Goliath gave me that look only he can give, like when I can’t remember how to tie his lead rope to the trailer or get my stirrups adjusted properly. With a look of frustration at how slow-witted I can be, he sighed, “For each other, dummy, and for Him!”

Well, duh! All that fancy seminary education and years of scholarship and it takes a cow pony to remind me of Basic Theology 101. I wonder sometimes if Goliath bucks me off just in the hopes of jump-starting what passes for my brain. But sitting on the ridge in the breeze with the smell of sage and the glories of the Big Open all around me, I seemed to finally catch a glimpse of God’s reality. You don’t have to be a biblical scholar to understand what it means to say “God is love” (I John 4:16). Just sit on a hill with your pony and smell the sage, listen to the meadowlark and let it sink in.

I think it was Oscar Hammerstein who wrote, “A bell is no bell ’til you ring it; a song is no song ’til you sing it. The love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay; love isn’t love ’til you give it away.” For love to be fulfilled, it has to have an object. God created the world to fulfill His love, and we, created in His image, need each other and the world to fulfill ours. In the original Greek of the New Testament, there are four different types of love described: “storge,” which is deep liking for things or people, from pizza to your favorite rock star; “philos,” which is love for family — kinfolks, even Aunt Gerdy who insists on those mushy kisses; “eros,” the romantic love we have for a special someone that begins with infatuation and hopefully grows into that deep husband/wife love that burns through the ages; and “agape,” the selfless love that just gives without thought of reward or cost.

God has created us to enjoy all these forms of love, and if we take the time to really be aware of them, we see all of them surrounding us. We live in a world that runs on love. Hate and evil are to be found in this world as well, just as darkness can be found in deep caves and closed rooms, or wherever the light does not shine. But as some scientists have noted, dark does not exist on its own, for it is only a void, an absence of light. Some suggest we ought to realize that hate, evil, selfishness and all the other things that plague our world are also, like the dark, not entities which exist on their own, but emptiness left by the absence of love. How much dark can blot out a candle? How much hate can blot out love? Look at the darkest times in human history, and even there the light of love refused to go out.

Churchill described the darkest days of the blitz in World War II as England’s finest hour, for in the depths of the greatest darkness, the light of courage and freedom shone brightest. Read “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom; her family died in the death camps of the Nazis, and yet even in that hell, she found love and hope. Love, like light, can be challenged, but cannot be overcome. “The Light has come into the world and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).

Just ask Doc as he contentedly grazes on prairie grass up in the hills. “The grass is for me, I am for you, you are for other people, and they are all for each other and for God.”


John Bruington, Th.D., is the former pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Havre, and he and Doc continue to enjoy life in the Big Open here on the Hi-Line.


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