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Out Our Way: I like your hat - Matthew 5:13-16


Out our way, cowboy hats are a cowboy’s signature. They may start out the same at the ranch store, but give it time. Every cowboy’s hat is uniquely shaped by wind, weather, and the result of years of wear and tear.

The other day, I was out hauling carts at the local mall where I work to support my son and me. Often I wear my Civil Air Patrol hat with service ribbons, W/O — warrant officer — bar, and a set of observer wings from time flying search and rescue missions in Colorado years ago. But, sometimes, the wind and rain, or simply the intense and burning high desert sun, make my old beat up, broad brimmed cowboy hat a better option.

I was on break and sitting on a bench under a shade tree enjoying the breeze that was finally cooling things off a mite, when a young guy came by and said, “I like your hat. Where can I get one like it?” Well, there is a dude’s western wear store that may have re-opened along with other stores in the mall, and I told him he might be able to get a cowboy hat there, but if he wanted to get one that looks like mine, he needed a good deal of saddle time in all kinds of weather. The hats come off the shelf freshly made, and we call it a “cowboy hat,” but before it becomes a cowboy’s hat, it needs years of wear and tear. 

I was thinking about that the other day and started to realize the same thing is true of discipleship. Everyone starts life pretty much the same, just like all the hats from the factory do. It is the life journey that makes each hat and each life unique. My hat, which that young guy so admired, reflects some 30-plus years of life. It shows the fading caused by the hot sun; it has some stains from sweat, mud, rain and snow. Its brim is a bit crooked from the times Doc has stepped on it or bucked me off and I landed on it.  

We start out in life pretty much a generic human being, but over the years life happens, and we are shaped by it and we become unique beings, just like my old hat. But unlike my hat, we have some say in how life’s experiences are going to shape our lives. I can choose to worship myself and be indifferent to others. And in the end our lives will reflect that choice. Or I can choose to serve God and neighbor, and my life will reflect that choice as well.

“How do I get a hat that looks like yours?” the young fellow asks me. “Not by leaving it tucked away in the closet. You will have to wear it all day, every day, and let life happen.”

I ask the Lord, “How do I get a real disciple’s faith?” And Christ reminds me, “Not by hiding my light under a bushel, but by letting the Light shine on me.”

As poor a candle as I may be, the smallest light is able to shine in the darkness. 

Be blessed and be a blessing.

Brother John


The Rev. John Bruington is the retired pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Havre. He now lives in Colorado, but continues to write “Out Our Way.” He can be reached for comment or dialogue at [email protected]


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