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Out Our Way: Doc stood by - Psalm 38:21-22


Last updated 6/3/2022 at 2:43pm

Out our way, everybody knows that if you are going to ride you are likely to get hurt now and then. I was fortunate when working cattle with Charlie up on the Tiger Ridge that I never had a "wreck." Doc, the only cowpony with four left hooves, stumbled and tripped up quite a bit, but never when we were actually working the herd. On private outings, however, that was a different story.

More than once, I got "air time" as Doc stumbled, kicked out with a muscle cramp - if we call that a Charley Horse in humans, is it a Charley "Man" for horses? - or lost his footing and nearly fell over on top of me. I ended up in ER with badly sprained ribs twice, and numerous bruises and abrasions - and even cactus spines all over my back and legs on one occasion. Yet, Doc never took off.

I recall riding alone on a logging road in the Bear Paws when Doc got a stitch in his leg, lashed out, and sent me flying. I hit, and hit hard. It knocked the wind out of me and restrained freshly healed ribs. I could not move for a time, and when I was finally able to move again, it was very slowly and painfully. I was several miles from my truck and trailer - and even farther from any other human being or help. But Doc stood there.

I crawled and then stumbled over to him, leaning against him for balance and trying to breathe - but I could not take deep breaths because of the pain. Doc didn't budge. I slowly went to his head, got the reins and somehow managed to climb up into the saddle. I was doubled over in pain and rode hunched over his back, and Doc gently walked the several miles to the trailer and truck, loaded easily - for once! - and I drove us the 10 miles or so to town and the ER. X-rays showed no breakage and, given some painkillers and a sort of "ace bandage" for sprained ribs, made it back to the paddock, unloaded, unsaddled, rubbed down Doc, and then unhitched the trailer and went home and to bed. It was several weeks of pain, but I was OK - and I never forgot how Doc stood by me through it all and got me home.

The Psalmist endured trials as well, and while, unlike Doc, God was not the cause, like Doc, God stood by the Psalmist and got him home. The same loyalty and trust and gratitude is found in the Psalmist; for while the Psalmist does not speak of his eventual deliverance the fact the Psalm is recorded tells us God did deliver him. 

I read the Psalm and picture myself at that moment - lying in the dirt, hurting everywhere, gasping in pain - and seeing Doc standing by to get me home. Despite my present dilemma, I knew I could count on Doc. Like the Psalmist, I whimpered, cried out in frustration and complained of how unfair it all was - but I crawled and stumbled and reached out to Doc. And he was there.

Now and then, the old bruises and hard knocks flare up and remind me of my cowboy "glory" days - and especially my amazing aerial feats and spectacular landings - but I always remember ole Doc standing by and bringing me home every time. 

Old memories and spiritual scars trouble me from time to time as well as I recall "wrecks" in my personal life that left me emotionally wounded and with pains that never fully healed. My fault - their fault - nobody's fault ... the pain and devastation was real and I have to live with it. But I also remember that through it all, God stood with me and will eventually bring me home.

Be blessed and be a blessing!

Brother John


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