Pete was a hardheaded ole’ boy who was handy with a horse, good with a loop, and stubborn in his ways. He was as staunch in his ways as a hedge post set in concrete. He figured that anything new he learned wasn’t as good as the old stuff. When the old stuff became newer than the new stuff, he’d learn that. In his time on this earth, the old stuff never became newer than the new stuff so he thought he knew the old stuff best. Get it…neither did Pete.
Reggie was a well-traveled cowboy. He had a past that most couldn’t fit into a lifetime. When it came to side jobs and hobbies, Reggie was a self-proclaimed master of them all. He had lived a cowboy’s life, drifting mostly, sinking occasionally. During these times of ups and downs, Reggie had tried his hands at all sorts of vocations. He was now riding the range because he couldn’t find a catch slogan for his horse training business. He was training horses because no one in his church would believe their Pastor’s cowboy stories. He was only a Pastor because he’d shoe’d for 3 months and his back went out. The Shoein’ business was his way out of team roping, which was his way out of Saddle Bronc ridin, because he got too old to ride bulls to get out of vet school. No one ever accused Reggie of thinking too much and just like his expertise, his intellect was about a mile wide and an inch deep. Reggie was a jack-of-all-trades and master of none, but was always good for a story, made up or otherwise.
Tyrell was probably the best cowboy of them all. There wasn’t anything he couldn’t accomplish atop of a horse. Tyrell had come upon the cowboy like most others. Job is bad word in cowboy camp, so Tyrell became a cowboy to avoid work. While he was avoiding work he became a school of hard knocks businessman. While he rode the range for the “Lazy L”, he also owned his own herd of prized black angus, some quarter horses that go all the way back to Poco Bueno, and a knack for turning a profit on any trade, like his zebra for civil war musket trade he was telling the guys about on the ride. He worked on the side at the sale barn and whatever was left at the end of the sale was Tyrell’s next trade item. He was stretched to the limit with appointments, meetings, and work, but made a heck of a cowboy.
George was a pretty bland cowboy. His gear was worn out but holding together, his horse was not overly athletic but trustworthy, and he was experienced and dependable. He had cowboy’d most of his life on ranches from Alberta to Abilene. He knew spring calving, fall calving, and every other option. He’d ridden good mounts, free mounts, and dis-mounts. There wasn’t much about the cowboy life that George hadn’t experienced. All that wisdom showed in the caution and reflectivity that he displayed everyday on the ranch.
The four men rode out to check pasture one day. They hit a lope as the took out from the homestead. On a ranch that size the only way to move fast was to go slow, so they made every effort not to tire out their horses. Their horses were bred to cover ground and they made it across the ranch in plenty of time to check the fences and take some time to relax before the foreman was to check in on them. The stopped next to a deep, clear creek surrounded by shade, a virtual oasis on their scrub brush ranch. They unsaddled their horses to give them a rest, and jumped into the clear water. There had been too many 100 degree days in a row to count, so this was a much welcomed refreshment that they had waited for all summer.
With their bellies full of water and the coolness of the creek fending off the summer heat, they climbed on to the bank only to find the ranch foreman atop his buckskin quarter horse looking down on them. He had seen their work and knowing that this was his best crew, he wanted to get them back to the homestead for a much deserved long weekend off. With the weekend rodeo on their minds, they wanted to make quick work of the trip home.
Before the cowboys took off they needed to “utilize” the facilities first. The ranch lacks portajohns, bathrooms, or outhouses, but shrubs and bushes are in abundance. Pete went over to where the brush was thickest. The foreman warned him not to go over there but Pete’s hard headedness got in the way. In a few seconds a shriek pierced the air and Pete lay sobbing on the ground proving that in the right circumstance a cowboy will cry.
Reggie wandered over to the same bush to go potty as well. The foreman told him not too, but Reggie heard the warning and it gave him pause, but he was never one to mull over such things for too long and he too let out a cry moments later because of the same bush. Tyrell was ready and raring to get back himself and those bushes were close by. The foreman had warned him not to go there, but Tyrell was far to busy to heed such instruction. He had places to go and this place was as good as any to go. His blood-curdling scream could be heard throughout the range.
As those three cowboy knuckleheads writhed on the ground in pain, George approached having gone to the bathroom where the foreman had told him. He asked the foreman what these guys were up too. The foreman replied, “I tried to tell them about the new hot wire fence I put up while you guys were swimming, but these guys wouldn’t listen to the message.”
In Mark 4, Jesus told a story one time about four different kinds of soils. The path was beaten down and hardened, refusing to let a seed take root. The rocky soil was impressionable but no deep enough to let seed sink roots deep enough to survive. The thorny soil was good soil for growing things but allowed everything to take root. The thorns and weeds were to thick to let anything of value grow. Finally, the good soil was one that received the seed and let its roots sink deep.
The four soils, like our four cowboys, represent our response to the Word of God. We could be like Pete (the path) and be so hardened to instruction that it never sinks in. We could be like Reggie (the rocky soil) and hear the warning but it never gets beyond our ears and into our life. We hear it and for a short time obey, but it never does get deep enough into our life to change it, so it ultimately perishes. We could be like Tyrell (the thorny soil) who was just to busy with life, in too much of a hurry, and had to many other important things to listen to the foreman.
Wouldn’t it be nice to be George (the good soil) to accept the teaching and warning from the foreman? Heeding the instruction given, George is able to grow and learn. The Word of God is given to us, to guide us, to reveal to us the nature, character, and love that God has for us. It is our hearts where that instruction is planted and, depending upon how it is prepared, accepts or rejects its message. Our hearts, just like each of the cowboys, must be willing to hear the message from the Foreman. Which cowboy will you be?