Throwing My Loop…
By: Michael Johnson
WHEN A FRIEND CALLS TO
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
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
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
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.”