Out Our Way: How'd they miss this one?

Acts 2


Out our way,  you can sometimes miss important things because you simply haven’t been paying attention and have grown somewhat lazy. Like the time Charlie and I were moving the herd a few miles from an area that was rapidly becoming over grazed  to new pasture. It was past the mating season, the calves had all been born and were frolicking alongside their moms, and the bulls had retired about a half mile away in their “Good Old Boy’s Club,” no longer challenging each other for dominance but quietly lying peacefully side by side, chewing their cud. I had worked the bulls before and while slower than the main herd, they were pretty docile if you gave them space and didn’t push too hard. Yup, a beautiful day, sunshine, meadowlarks, a nice cooling breeze and the perfume of sage, horse and cows. The herd was ready to move and Charlie was having no trouble getting them going, the bulls were soon standing and ambling along  following the ladies and the kids — and it was a day to just sit back in the saddle, sing a bit to Doc, and enjoy the sight of my five bulls moving ahead.

Wait! Five bulls? There were supposed to be six. I never got to be familiar with the bulls as a whole, but there was one — the smallest of the lot — a young, white  Charolais bull Charlie and I nicknamed “Junior” because he was so small compared to the others.  Where was Junior? I rode up to the head of the herd at a trot  — no sense stirring up the herd by coming behind them too fast and hard —  and caught up with Charlie.

“Junior’s missing,” I called out. So we let the herd go grazing again and the rest of the bulls have another lie down, and then began scouring the area for Junior.  

It took about an hour of hunting, riding up ridges and down through arroyos, pushing through thorn trees and riding up and down dying out creeks, but we eventually found him — along with about six heifers he had brought along as his own private harem. We had lost a bull the year before whom we found in a thicket with a broken leg — and we had to shoot him — so  I was glad I could laugh at Junior’s state instead of mourn the loss of another bull.

But as we drove Junior and his girlfriends back to the herd and resumed, I thought how easily I could have missed the fact he was gone, simply taking for granted all the bulls and failing to realize my error.

Father’s Day is coming, and my boys want to take me out to a restaurant, but I hate to admit, I forgot what day it comes on — It’s Sunday the 16th. I went to my Day Timer to double check and sure enough, there it was. Also listed was “Flag Day” — June 14 — and Jean Baptiste Day in Quebec — June 24.

But then I noticed that Pentecost — June 9 — was missing. Now how did they miss that?

Well, in our so-called “progressive age” when the Pledge of Allegiance is banned in  schools, standing for the National Anthem is frowned upon, and displaying the flag from one’s own home is considered offensive, I suppose  Christianity — if not outrightly attacked — being treated with indifference by more and more people should not be a surprise. That my Day Timer  missed a major Christian holiday sort of goes along with that trend.

However, even if Day Timer missed the day, I did not — and I have been blessed by numerous incidents to keep that day in mind.

As you know, Pentecost was the day when everything changed. The disciples who huddled in terror, for although they had seen the Risen Christ, were still weak and  frightened people, terrified that those who had crucified Christ were also hunting them. But then came the Holy Spirit — just as Jesus had promised (Acts 1:8) and they were transformed. Instead of hiding from the critics who were “offended” by the Gospel and who sought to crush it — they boldly confronted them and shared the message of Christ.  Persecutions and even death followed, but they did not stop and today the Gospel is proclaimed in virtually every nation and every language known.

But Pentecost, sometimes called “The birthday of the Church,” is remembered for something else — the reversal of Babel (Genesis 11). In the Babel account, the human race is divided by languages, but at Pentecost, the Apostles were given the gift of languages so they could speak freely to all people of all nationalities. In our time, the Spirit no longer gives us that power so easily and we have to study and take the time to learn languages and cultures not our own to continue the dialogue that is slowly bringing us back together as human beings — the Children of God.

As you know, I am not just a retired pastor and former cowboy, but am now a cart wrangler at a major national retail store in the local mall. Do I preach to my teammates and the customers? Yup — but more by actions than words. And sometimes I do use words, by greeting people for whom English is not their native tongue in what few words I may know. I seek a limited Pentecost in the parking lot saying “Hola” to the Hispanics who smile in appreciation, “Ni Hao” to a Chinese family who comes by, “Salaam” to a group of Somali Muslims who have come to town, and “Shalom” to some traditional Jewish folk coming in yarmulkes. No mention of Christ in words, but some may come to see Christ in my actions.  And others will at least get the Gospel message of “God is love” (1 john 4:16). If they do not yet know Christ, they at least can see me and perhaps see Christ in me.

So my mini-Pentecost in the parking lot pushing carts as I used to push cows makes the celebration and remembrance of that glorious first Pentecost  pretty special. No wonder I am sad that Day Timer, and I imagine a great many others, have grown indifferent to the reality of the Spirit at work in the world missed it.

When Junior wandered off with his group of strays, had we not found them and brought them back they might well have eventually  starved in the barren pasture, died of thirst at the dried up reservoir,, or been prey for the lions that come down in the bad weather looking for weak prey. But as God did not let me miss Junior when he and his band had wandered away, I trust God is keeping His eye out for all us strays, for He doesn’t intend to abandon any of us (2 Peter 3:9).


Brother John Bruington


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