A good cowboy on a good horse is incredible to watch. This partnership between cowboy an horse happens at every Extreme Cowboy Race. When I turned 30 this year and realized that I couldn’t fight bulls forever, I began a search for an event to be a part of, that will fill in the gap between fighting bulls and socially acceptable 6:30 a.m. Tee-times at the golf course and long hours at the doughnut shop when I turn 65. Essentially a timed obstacle course on horseback, extreme cowboy racing challenges the horse and rider to accomplish a certain number of tasks as quickly and efficiently as possible. Josh Rushing (pictured here) is a former Extreme Cowboy Racing World Champion in 2010, and he has shown me an awful lot about the sport and what it takes to win.
The event challenges both the horse and rider to be Problem-Solvers. A great horse for this event can do cow-work, side pass, lead-change, back, spin, jump, and about everything else that can be imagined. Every course is different, with different obstacles, so a horse that is truly in tune with their rider is required to excel. The horse has to trust its rider in every situation. Just like any other sport, championships are won in the practice pen. A great cowboy needs to figure out, to problem solve, how to teach his horse to cross bridges, move an inflatable ball, stand still when a shots fired and a thousand other things. Each obstacle has to be broken down in practice into manageable steps in order to get a flight-first animal to trust the human’s judgment. Some of the best problem solver’s I know are horseman, and though I don’t know how these trainers do it, God does because He is the great problem solver in our lives…
He solved our sin problem. When man sinned and ate the forbidden fruit in Genesis 3, God was quick to enact a redemption plan. “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3.15) This verse is God starting the task of redeeming man, of restoring the relationship that was broken just a few verses before. For the next couple thousand years, God would be orchestrating and solving this issue of our separation from God because of our sin. Reading the Old Testament is watching the Great Problem Solver in action, prophesying thorough men, working in familial lines with the whole purpose being to bring Jesus onto the scene to die for our sins. God’s answer to our sin problem was the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. God, the great problem solver, provided the solution in Jesus.
He solved our Ignorance problem. Romans 1.18-20 makes the case that God can be found through general revelation. General revelation is God’s working in the world and His fingerprints on the world. Looking at the stars, seeing a sunrise, the design in the structure of a horse, or smile of a newborn, these are all natural things that Paul says point to God’s existence. Jesus, the one who saves us, can only be learned about through special revelation. Special revelation is the words that God has spoken to us, the words of scripture. Genesis 5.1 is the first mention of a written document in the Bible. Moses writes down the law that he is given on Mt. Sinai. (Exodus 24.4) Jeremiah dictates his prophecies to Baruch. (Jer. 45.1) Luke writes his Gospel for Theophilus (1.1-4) and Peter mentions Paul’s letters as Scripture (2 Peter 3.14-17). God has spoken to us (Heb. 1.1-4; 2 Tim. 3.16) to communicate His love to us, as shown through Jesus Christ, in order to solve our ignorance problem.
He solved our Isolation problem. It was no coincidence that the first thing Adam did when questioned by God about his sin was to throw Even under the bus. “The WOMAN, that YOU, put here with me—she gave me some to eat.” (Gen. 3.12) Sin isolates us from one another. Often times if I had it my way, I want to be left alone, but for the good of my spiritual life and my relationship with God, I need people around me. God’s solution was the Church. Simply defined, a church is a group of people devoted to worshiping and loving God and living out their lives in honor to Him. How that looks may be very different depending on the group of people. Some Cowboy churches wear boots and hats to worship in a barn, other churchgoers wear three-piece suits listening to a choir till 2 in the afternoon. Some meet on Tuesday nights in a barn, others in an arena before a weekend rodeo. Others meet in a building that is 100’s of years old, some in a Morton building, but regardless of how, when, or where they meet, God has provided the answer to our isolation problem in these local congregations.
He solved our leadership problems. Jesus promised that God would give His Counselor, the Holy Spirit to the disciples once he is gone. (John 14.16-17) We too have been given the Holy Spirit, to live inside of us, to convict us of wrong doing (John 15.8), to guide us into the truth (John 15.13), and to help us bring glory to God through his work in Jesus. We needed “God with us”, Jesus to come and take away our sins, and now we have “God in us” to renew us, challenge us, grow us, and lead us. The Holy Spirit was sent to animate our lives, to speak in our lives, and to show us God’s power in our lives. We needed a leader; God provided the solution by sending His Spirit to dwell in us.
In the same way a great horseman can solve the problems with his horse, God has solved our issues in his own creative, active, and partnering way. It was never God’s plan, to go it alone. In every step of the way, God partnered with us to solve our problems. He sent us His son asking us to believe, He spoke to us His word asking us to write it down, He gave us churches asking us to love one another, and He gave us His Spirit asking us to obey. God truly is the Great Problem Solver.