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Been There, Done That

Posted by Matt Postiff October 3, 2013 on Matt Postiff's Blog under Gospel 

Guest post by Bill Goodwin

Several years ago I went elk and grizzly bear hunting with bow and arrow in Montana. It was to be a nine day horseback trip into the mountains near the Continental Divide. It was late October and the weather was perfect. Our outfitter, Willis Kent, ready with the horses and equipment, led us up to the base camp from which we planned to hunt further up the mountain.

After hunting for two days one of my partners and I each shot a bull elk while they were in the midst of fighting, a very unusual happening that was a precursor of yet another unusual event.

We field dressed the elk and had to leave them on top of the mountain until we could retrieve them in the morning with pack mules.

It was getting dark fast and Willis warned us not to try to guide the horses in the dark as they knew their way back to camp. We started down a trail that we had not been on before. Within a few minutes we were below the timberline and darkness happened very suddenly. Willis asked me to bring up the rear and reiterated that we should not try to guide the horses, just let them follow his lead horse. As we proceeded four strong physical senses came into play. One, that our horses were in a descent angle; two, the only light that was visible was the occasional spark ahead of us from the horse’s shoes clipping rocks; three, the sound of the hooves on those rocks; and fourth, the tremendous sense of blindness from the total blackness all around us. What a helpless feeling, literally unable to see any part of the horse you are sitting on! Willis also told us to keep our head down to avoid getting our eyes clawed out by the occasional tree limb that we couldn’t see. At times our horses would be going down such a steep incline that they’d run down one incline and up the next. Imagine, riding a running horse downhill in pitch blackness, not seeing where the downhill ends and the uphill begins and all I can do is hang on to the saddle horn, grip the horse with my legs, and keep my head down to prevent being swept off the horse by a limb!

Finally we reached camp, took care of the horses for the night, sat down to our supper and made plans to go back up in the morning with the pack animals to bring down the game.

The next morning we went up that same trail. I saw that trail for the first time, since it was now daylight, and I must say, I was shocked! The higher we got, the more I looked at how close we were at times to the edge of what would have been a long drop had a horse made a wrong step! What would have happened if one of us forced our horse to turn at the wrong time?! (There had been times, because of the hairpin turns that the horse in front of you was really at your side and lower, making you think your horse was going in the wrong direction!) The natural tendency would be to take the reins and force your animal to turn, but we stuck to our instructions not to try this.

“Where is all this story going?”, you ask. Well, for me it has plenty of lessons if I wish to apply them.

First, I want to say that I mean no disrespect for the Lord, but I want for the moment to think of the Lord as being like that horse. If I’m a Christian, I can make no progress in the right direction without being in strong contact with Him. I also must recognize that God is in total control of all situations as I travel life’s trail. Col. 1:17, “and by Him all things consist.” God has the advantage over me in that He’s been there before me. God knows the trail, even in the dark He can still see the pitfalls, the rocks, the steep inclines, the edge of the cliffs to avoid. Even if the trail ahead seems crooked to me as in the hairpin turns, God knows what He’s doing, I shouldn’t try to force Him to fit my mold, but I should conform to His direction. God says in Romans 12:2, “Be not conformed to this world...” This world has diligently tried to ‘humanize’ God by trying to force Him to conform to our philosophy. The opposite is the truth.

I also find another truth. When my head is steadily bowed in prayer it is less likely to get knocked off or clawed up by the tough ‘limbs’ of this world.

Another lesson I found is to quit trying to control my own life, let go of the reins and instead, realize that God says in Ps. 37 that He holds us by HIS hand, not us doing the hanging on. Our strength is not sufficient. Only God is capable of carrying me through death’s door to be with Him eternally.

Those horses were completely knowledgeable of the trail. We had to trust them: our lives depended on it. Only God knows how to lead us to life everlasting, He, and He alone is able to provide the Way to that eternal life. If you repent, and put your faith and trust unreservedly in Him, He can and will forgive you of your sins. Only He is qualified to ‘carry’ you through the judgment because He has ‘Been There, Done That.’

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