Echoes From the Campfire

Trouble was an odor that passed through any kind of wall and shook men alive.”
              –Ernest Haycox  (Canyon Passage)

    “He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed.”
              –Mark 14:33 (NLT)
I don’t know what your year has been like, but this one thing I do know–it’s almost over.  You may have had a year of troubles and woes.  Your year may have been full of celebration.  Either way, remember your Creator as the year comes to a close.  Good or bad, He is still with you whether you realize it or not.
    You have one month to fulfill the resolutions you made some many months ago.  Don’t let the year end without them being fulfilled or at least worked on.  Christmas would be a great time to finish up loose ends.
    I recall some thoughts I read several years ago.  Have you ever thought that the troubles that come your way may be of your own doing?  Whether that’s true or whether they have been caused by someone else, nature, or disease, it is time to sit and ponder what the Lord may be doing through them.  Look at the following Scripture:

         “Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear.”
                    –Genesis 1:9 (KJV)

We all know that this speaks of creation.  But look closer–“let the dry land appear.”  That means it was there all the time.  Perhaps the same is true of our lives when troubles come our way.  Perhaps it is the Spirit bringing out latent qualities in us.  They have always been there, just hidden by the junk of life or the storms that have come our way.  I like the way George Matheson puts it:

         “It is not so much the giving of something new as the removal of something old.  It is the taking away of an obstruction–‘let the waters be gathered unto one place.’  It is not the want of sight that prevents me from seeing my possibilities; it is something between me and the sun; it is the shadow of myself….
         Release the imprisoned land that lies within my heart!  Give me the power to see what is actually before me!  How many things I see for the first time when the obstruction is withdrawn!”

    Think of Abraham traveling up that mountain with Isaac, the promised son.  He could not see what was hidden, but he knew that the Lord was faithful.  He knew that the Lord would provide.  At the right time, God removed the obstruction and Abraham saw the ram caught in the thickets.  It had been hidden from him, but now there it was the provision.  
    This Christmas take time to look through the trouble, the problem, the situation and look for the provision that the Lord has for you.
Now to finish Waddie Mitchell’s, “The Sum.”  Have you looked carefully at each stanza?  How does it fit your life?  Perhaps you need to ponder the “Sum” of your life and see how the Lord is trying to let the real person that is within you appear.

               “Does the sum of what you could learn
                   Equal up to what you know?
                Are you ready to take your next step
                   Toward the things that make you whole?
                You will have to do your walking
                   You will have to name your goals.
                YOU’RE the one who has to set your pace
                   You’re the one that builds your soul.”

Remember that the Holy Spirit seeks to be your “helper.”  Do your part to work on the stumps, and He will be there to help you remove them.

Echoes From the Campfire

I admire toughness.  The right kind.”
              –Jack Schaefer (Shane)

    “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.”
              –Romans 5:3-4 (NLT)
One of my favorite books is Shane.  Here is a man that just happened to show up (or did he?) to help a family in their struggles against nature and against the evil nature of man.  There are many character lessons that can be learned from Shane.  Was he a man running away from his past; or was he a man sent to the family and valley for a purpose?  No matter, one of my favorite scenes from the book was the battle against the “stump.”

         “When father worked on that old stump, that was worth seeing too.  He could handle an axe mighty well and what impressed you was the strength and will of him making it behave and fight for him against the tough old wood.  This was different.  What impressed you as Shane found what he was up against and settled to it was the easy way the power in him poured smoothly into each stroke.  The man and the axe seemed to be partners in the work.  The blade would sink into the parallel grooves almost as if it knew itself what to do and the chips from between would come out in firm and thin little blocks.”

    What a battle those two men had with that stump.  Blow upon blow, hour upon hour, they worked to get that large, old stump out of the ground.  Endurance, strength, tenacity, and downright old stubbornness was seen in their gigantic effort to remove the stump from its long-time resting place.

         “Father grunted in exasperation.  You could see the strength building up in his legs and broad shoulders and big corded arms.  His side of the upturned stump rocked forward and Shane’s side moved back and the whole stump trembled like it would twist down and into the hole on them at a grotesque new angle…
          I caught a glimpse of his [Shane’s] eyes.  They were aflame with a concentrated cold fire.  Not another separate discernible movement did he make.  It was all of him, the whole man, pulsing in the one incredible surge of power.  You could fairly feel the fierce energy suddenly burning in him, pouring through him in the single coordinated drive.  His side of the stump rocked forward even with father’s and the whole mass of the stump tore loose from the last hold and toppled away to sprawl in ungainly defeat beyond them.”

    Upon reading my devotion a couple days ago, this scene came immediately to my mind.  The words from Scripture was finally beginning to make sense in my feeble, little mind.

         “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities:  for we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
                   –Romans 8:26 (KJV)

The word “helpeth” in this verse is the Greek “sunantilambano”.  This means “to take hold of something with someone else, gripping it together as tightly as possible, and throwing your combined weight against it to move it out of the way.”  For years Joe Starrett had struggled with that stump.  He would work on it and very little would happen.  He would go away and another day return to his challenge to overcome and remove that stump.  One day, Shane appears, and the two of them take hold of that stump working together and finally moving it out of the way.  The same is true with the stumps in our life.  This verse shows that the Holy Spirit becomes our partner in our endeavor against the “stump” in our life.
    We have “infirmities”, we don’t have what it takes to get the job done by ourselves.  However, the Holy Spirit begins to aid us, working with us to strengthen our weakness and help us overcome the obstacle.
This fits right in with the poem I have been using by Waddie Mitchell, “The Sum.”  Here is the third stanza.

         “Does the sum of what you could do
            Equal up to what you done?
         Have you had your own piece of the cake
            Or, have you settled for the crumbs?
         Have you reached your aspirations?
            Have your races all been run?
         Is the person you’d be proud to be
            The person you’ve become?”

Echoes From the Campfire

Firelight danced upon their faces.  There was the good smell of a wood fire burning, of coffee freshly made, and the smell of meat broiling, and of the stew.”
              –Louis L’Amour  (The Ferguson Rifle)

    “Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.”
              –Hebrews 12:28 (NLT)
Now, I’m not one to complain much, but there are a few things that just jerk my jaws.  I can’t get it through my head the “why” of such thinking.  It must be their agenda–the move to completely revise history and the truth.  
    Pet Peeve #8:  The making of scum and punks into heroes.  Why is it that the media, the movies, seek to make heroes out of scum?  Billy the Kid was no hero.  Doc Holliday lived only to die.  Bonnie and Clyde delighted in their lawless antics.  And these are just to name a few.
    Where are the stories about the real heroes?  How many have read of Dave Cook?  He was one of the greatest lawmen of the old West and founder of the Rocky Mountain Detective Association.  Or N.K Boswell, one of Cook’s detectives and later sheriff of Albany County, Wyoming (Laramie).  There was Frank Canton, Heck Thomas, and Leander McNelly who helped save the Texas Rangers and made them into a reputable organization after the Reconstruction.
    Pet Peeve #9:  The taking of our “heroes” and dragging their name and reputation through the mud.  The other peeve, closely related to the first is the taking of national heroes, digging up the skeletons in their closet and displaying their dirty laundry and saying this is the real person.  We live in a day where people thrive on the sins of others.  We thrill in the wrong-doing of others; maybe it appleases our minds and makes us feel that we are not so bad.  However, we should not forget their greatness.  
    What is it that made a common person, just like you and me, shine forth?  Was it the circumstance or was it in their inate character to begin with?  I believe it is both.  Without 9/11, we would not have the character of George Bush come forth, yet all the media seemed to do was to try and malign him.  All that is written about Sam Houston were the days of his drunkedness, the same of Ulysses S. Grant, yet they seldom dwell on the great aspects of their lives.  And what is forgotten, is that both men understood the dangers of alcohol and put it aside.  
    Much of the ado is that the forces of evil do not want to show good, or if they do, they want to also show that the man was “human.”  They dragged Jesus through the streets dripping in blood and thrust Him on a cross; yet they could find no fault in Him. They stoned Paul and left him for dead, and later made false accusations against him.
    Well, there is the end of my griping for November.  Just stop and ponder whenever you hear the stories that tear down the greatness of a person and why.  Just stop and ponder why the media wants to make great those whose lived their lives as notorious sinners, people of evil intent, and why they want to destroy the good works of man.
Time to give you the second stanza of Waddie Mitchell’s poem, “The Sum.”  Ponder and see if you fit in somewhere.

         Do pit-falls you find in your way
           Dictate how you run your race?
         Have rivers, we’ve all got to cross
           Proved more than you can face?
         Have you let some disappointments
           Slow your agenda’s pace?
         Get up if you have fallen down
           To trip is no disgrace.

The Saga of Miles Forrest

I went immediately to the telegraph office to send a message to Gilford Covney letting him know that if Lucas doesn’t show up I would not be on the train to Denver on Sunday.  Then I went over to a storeroom that Charlie was using for his office.
    “Charlie, I’m goin’ to start ridin’ on the north edge of town to the west,” I told him.
    “Good,” he replied.  “I’ll check through the town, then move to the south and work west as well.  We’ll find him, Miles, don’t fret.”
    I nodded then walked up to the cabin to get Star.  It had been a while since I worked him.  Glancing around I saw that he wasn’t in the pasture, so I went on up to the stable.  What I saw stopped me in my tracks and I just stood there with my hands on my hips.
    “Lucas!” I exclaimed.  “Your sister is worried sick over you!  Why are you up here?”
    He was currying Two-Bits and stopped to look at me.  “What do you mean, Senor Miles?  I have a job to do.”
    Walking up to him, I looked him over and saw that he had a bruise on the side of his face.  I reached out to touch it, and he balked and moved his face away from my touch.
    “How did you get this?” I questioned.
    He stuttered a little then said, “I fell.”
    “Well, if you can’t be honest with your boss and friend, then you’re fired.  Get your stuff and don’t come around my horses again,” I snapped.
    It shook him up and I thought he was going to cry.  I didn’t have time to play games with him; I needed answers.
    Sobbing, he went to gather his few materials that he worked the horses with.  I yelled at him, “Lucas!  Tell me what happened!”
    “I can’t,” he said trying to hold back the tears.  “They said…”
    “What?  What did they say?  Who?” I prodded.
    “The men…”
    “What men?  Tell me Lucas so I can help you.”
    “They said they would kill Marta.  I can’t tell you,” he stammered trying to gain control of his emotions.
    “How did you get the bruise?” I asked pushing him for information.  “The truth now.”
    “One of the men hit me.  They wanted to know if I knew where you were…where Mr. Douster was,” he calmly answered now back in control.  Then he added, “I’m sorry,” wiped his nose, “I’m not a cry-baby, but I have to take care of Marta.”
    Putting my hands on his shoulders I said, “We’ll all take care of Marta.  Come with me and we’ll see if Molly has some pie in the diner.”
    “I’m hired back,” he said hopefully.
    “We’ll talk about it over pie.”
    Charlie was in the diner as Lucas and I arrived.  There were a couple of miners sitting at a table, otherwise the diner was empty.  I told Lucas to have a seat while I went to get Marta and Molly and Lucas’ pie.
    “You go sit yourself down,” ordered Molly.  “I’ll bring the pie.”
    I poured coffee, then sat down along with Marta.  Presently Molly came out with three pieces of butterscotch pie.  Lucas exclaimed, “Butterscotch, my favorite.”
    Nudging him on the shoulder, I declared, “One of mine too.”
    Molly then took a seat and I began to tell them what Lucas had shared with me.  He would add to it from time to time, and when Charlie asked if anyone had mentioned any names, he blurted that one man called the well-dressed man, Merker.
    “Do they want me out of the way, or do they want to know where I’m going?” I asked.
    “Seems to me,” ventured Charlie, “they want the whereabouts of Douster.”
    Molly put her hand on mine.  “Miles, I think you should go to Denver.”
    Charlie then piped in, “Yeah, sorta let it be known that you’re leaving.  Maybe not saying it, but implying that you’re going to see Douster.  We’ll take care of Marta,” he said winking at Lucas.
    “I’ve already talked with Grizz.  He’ll be here Sunday and will stay at the diner.  We’ll be all right,” said Molly.
    When Sunday arrived I had Star boarded on the train and I went to kiss Molly goodbye.  There were two passenger cars and I watched carefully the passengers who boarded.  There were two men I had not seen before and that caused me to start pondering.
    “See you in a week,” I hollered as the train let out a loud sound and the train started moving…