Michael's Monthly Column "Throwing My Loop"

Throwing My Loop…    

By:  Michael Johnson  



     The disciples asked Jesus, “Why do you speak to us in parables?”  And He essentially said, “Because it’s the best way for you to get it.”  We remember stories.  That is so true about me.  I can hear a stuffy two-hour lecture and not be able to recall a word of it.  Journal articles make my eyes glaze over, but if someone tells me a story, every detail sticks.  Stories can be so powerful.  Like this one…
     Gracie rode a big horse named Clancy, and Clancy – while beautiful – could be a real pain.  He skipped, he hopped and danced, always nervous as a cat, and just as difficult to ride.  Gracie said, “I wanted to kill him two or three times, and he almost killed me twice.”  In spite of their differences however, Gracie and Clancy did care for each other - as horses and humans are prone to do - and both loved trail riding. But one occasion was different from all others.
     The riders were ascending a steep hill when the trail boss turned and spoke.  Gracie, Clancy, and the rest stopped to listen.  “There’s a natural spring about fifteen minutes ahead,” he said.  “We can water our horses there.”  Then he added,  “But we have to be careful.”  Then he told them why.
     “Just to the right of that spring is an area we want to avoid,” he said.  “There’s a steep embankment there that goes down about fifteen feet to a pool of quicksand.  We lost a horse there a few years ago.  We will have room, but just be aware we want to avoid that bog at all cost.”  The riders all nodded in agreement and everyone’s safety meter was on full alert.
     As they approached the spring - for reasons no one ever deduced - the horse in front of Gracie and Clancy shied backwards slamming into Clancy.  The big horse lost his footing and stumbled to his right.  Over the edge of the embankment he went, sliding gently down and down, right into the treacherous bog…with Gracie on his back all the while.  “I knew he was trying not to land on me,” she said.  “I could feel him moving his body to avoid falling on me.”  And there they were… in a very bad place.  Some of the riders began to scream.
     “None of that,” snapped the boss.  “That won’t help.  Everybody get your adrenalin down, and hand me that rope on my saddle horn.”  The old fellow built his loop, spun it once, and let his rope fly down to Gracie.  Once she had a death grip, he called to the others saying, “Come and help me.”  The group joined as one, and in a short time, pulled Gracie to safety.  “Thank God we are all right now,” said one of the riders.
     “I’m afraid we are not all okay,” said the trail boss.  And everyone looked down to see Clancy – now up to his withers in that quicksand.  “We can’t pull the horse out,” the old fellow said.  “We’re just not strong enough.  We can pull a human up, but not a twelve hundred pound horse.  That’s how we lost the last one.”
     Then Gracie did the strangest thing.
     “I knew I had to do something,” she said, laughing and crying now as she re-lived the story.  “Tears were streaming down my face, and I just couldn’t sit there and watch him die.  We couldn’t pull him out; there was no time to get equipment that might, and all hope seemed lost.  I just couldn’t bear this…”
     Then, Gracie kneeled down on the side of the bog and said, “Clancy!  Clancy!  Look at me!”  The big horse turned his eyes on hers.  “Clancy!” she repeated.
“Clancy, get up and get out of there!”  Clancy stared - not moving.  “C’mon, Clancy…c’mon.  Get up and get out of there!” 
And Clancy began to move.
     And he moved - and he moved some more – and Clancy began to fight.  His shoulders hunched.  He pawed with one front leg, and the other came free.  And Clancy fought harder…and after a short time, Clancy broke free, and with mud flying everywhere, Clancy walked up the embankment to safety.
     And ain’t that just like life?
     How many times have we been in a mess – I mean a real mess in life, and someone on the bank - who can still see clearly - says, “Get out of that mess.  You can do it.  Come on.  Get up and get out of that!”  Every single person who has truly helped me in life did just that.  They said, “I can’t do it for you…but you can do it.  Come on!”  And we learn from those who love us, that we are stronger than we think and more than we know.
     Gracie told a wonderful and powerful story.  One that teaches us a valuable lesson - that we can all be like Gracie in life.  We can all give that encouragement – we can all give that hope - to our friends when they think they can’t go on…when they think they are powerless.
     There’s one more thing about that story that haunts me, and that is…we can all be like Gracie, and that’s a good thing.  But perhaps even more importantly…
we can all be like Clancy, too. 

                                    “If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”
                                                                         Ecclesiastes 4:10

--Michael Johnson                          




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