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Out Our Way: Charlie's trailer - Luke 24:13-35

 

Last updated 4/15/2022 at 9:31am

Out our way, folks are used to working long days - especially in the spring and in agriculture. Farmers and ranchers don't have time clocks and with longer days and shorter nights, you often have incredibly long hours. A thermos carried in the pickup or tractor - or in your saddle bag - is the closest you get to a coffee break, and meal times vary depending on how long it takes to get the job done and variables like the weather. And there was also the equipment or stock to consider.

As some of you may recall, Babe - my former wife's horse - was a beautiful sorrel paint with the smoothest ride you can imagine. Easy chair horsemanship. Doc, on the other hand - 1,200-plus pounds, 16 ½ hands high - had four left hooves and a gait like a jackhammer. But Babe was afraid of cows, and Doc was born and raised on a cattle ranch in the Bear Paws. So it was jackhammer riding when Charlie and I worked the herds on the Tiger Ridge. I loved the "Tiger" for its rugged beauty, the smell of the prairie, and the sound of the meadowlarks, but it was rough terrain. The ridges were a challenge as Doc bounced me up one side and then tripped his way down the other. The thorn bushes we had to ride through to check for strays were a literal pain, and the plains don't offer much shade on days when the sun is blazing hard. Long story short, while nothing compared to what the old-timers went through, your modern cowboy puts in long and tiring hours, especially in summer when the sun rises early and sets late. 

But even when every ache and pain you ever had was multiplied seven-fold from the constant wear and tear on you and your horse, there was the promise that eventually you would top a final ridge and Charlie's trailer would appear below. As I have written before, I got lost quite often up there, but Charlie never did, so all I had to do was follow Charlie. As hard as things went, as tired and pain-filled as my body had become, there was Charlie leading the way and promising me that his trailer was up ahead. Just knowing that helped me keep going. And sure enough - though it sometimes seemed it would never materialize - there it was! That beautiful old red trailer and Charlie's truck sitting out in the pasture by the last gate, waiting to take me and Doc home.

I have used Charlie's trailer as a metaphor for the resurrection we celebrate on Easter Sunday before. You can certainly grasp the total sense of despair felt by Jesus' followers on Good Friday. All their hopes and faith had been utterly smashed and now, surveying the destruction of the dream that they had sacrificed everything to follow, there was only utter desolation. 

Two dejected and devastated souls walked away from Jerusalem that Sunday morning, walking back to Emmaus. Then a stranger walked up and journeyed with them, heard their despair and sought to offer hope. They stopped for the night, broke bread - and suddenly they discovered the "stranger" was the risen Christ. It was all true after all! And then others saw - many others - and then the word began to spread and continues to do so to this day. Why? Atheists and agnostics scoff and deny the Resurrection, but they cannot explain Emmaus, or Saul's conversion to Paul on the Damascus Road (Acts 9) or the millions of conversions and spread of the faith around the world that began 2000-plus years ago and continues to this day.  

Like Charlie's trailer, the promise of Christ seems far off and at times, questionable. We are all "on the road to Emmaus" at times, weary, defeated, the last spark of faith going out. But the promise of Christ comes with us - and just as Charlie led me over the last ridge to his trailer that would take me home, I look to Christ to walk beside me and lead me to that moment when my eyes will also be opened and I will see and know (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Until then, as I followed Charlie who promised his trailer was over the ridge, I will also follow Christ Who has promised I will be raised and come home (Matthew 25: 21). Some folks symbolize Easter with eggs and bunnies; but my symbol is a red horse trailer down on the flats waiting for Doc and me to take us home.

Be blessed and be a blessing!

Brother John 

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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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