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Out Our Way: Of four wheelers and horses - Luke 15: 3 - 7


Last updated 8/7/2020 at 7:43am

Out our way, the fall roundup is a major event and, as anyone who has worked one will tell you, rounding up the cattle scattered all across the “big open” is a lot of hard work.

Now, as it happens, Charlie and I rode for Big Mike. One roundup Charlie was on “Jet” and I was on “Doc” — good cow ponies — but Mike and his boys came out with four wheelers. They covered a lot more territory and moved a great deal faster than we did. In sheer numbers of cattle herded that day, they were far more successful than we were. I recall being up on a ridge and seeing down on the flats below Big Mike and his crew driving some 300 head or more toward the corral in a very short time. But they did not round up all the cattle.

The four wheelers were great on the open pasture, but there were strays in the thickets and along the narrow gullies and arroyos where the four wheelers could not go. It took horses and riders to slowly explore and search out the brush land. We spent hours riding through thorny thickets — thank God for leather chaps! — and exploring the length and width of many a narrow gulch where only a horse could go. At the end of the day, while Mike and the others were enjoying themselves relaxing around the corral filled with the cattle they had brought in and taking real pride in the 300-plus they had rounded up, Charlie and I finally rode in pushing some 70-plus head we had managed to find. I guarantee Big Mike was as glad to see those 70 as he was the 300. 

Chances are you know the parable of the boy and the starfish. Briefly, a boy found thousands of starfish stranded and dying on the beach after a storm and began picking them up one by one and tossing them back into the sea. Someone scoffed and said, his efforts were so small that it did not matter. The kid just kept at it, picked up another starfish, tossed it into the sea, and said to the skeptic: “It matters to that one!”

Over the years I have served a variety of congregations, some larger than others depending on location and local population, but all serving the same purpose. There are some great men and women of faith who reach hundreds if not thousands in their ministries. But there are also many more who reach the ones the big church ministries cannot. The “four wheeler” ministries are impressive and reach so many, but they seldom have the ability to go in amongst the thorns and gullies and seek out the strays. Big Mike took pride in his machines and saw the advantages of cowboying from a four wheeler. But he also was smart enough to realize he still needed some old-time cowhands on horseback to go after the ones the four wheelers could not get. Seems to me that God calls for both four wheelers and horses on His roundup, as well.

The “Boss” might send us out on a “four wheeler” and we will rejoice we were able to reach so many. But He may send us instead to comb the thickets and ride the narrow canyons and gulches in which we may reach only a few, but those few are ones the four wheelers could not reach. Remember, they all belong to the Boss and He wants them all brought in.  

Be blessed and be a blessing whether you ride a four wheeler in the open flats or a cow pony in the brush!

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 bruingtonjohn@gmil.com.


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