I didn’t care much for the horse I was riding. Of course, Hawk had spoiled me for mountain riding. I guess that’s what you get when the government is paying the rent and you don’t get a chance to pick it out yourself. At least the road was well-worn.
The weather had turned out cold as we climbed toward the summit of the pass. From time-to-time there were flakes of snow blowing. I hated to put out the money on another sheepskin coat, but I’m glad I did now.
Blasco kept us moving. We stopped only once on the way up to give the horses a breather. “I don’t want to stop at Wooten’s; just pay our toll and keep moving,” he told me.
“I’ve heard a lot about ‘Uncle Dick Wooten,” but just what type of person is he?” I asked as I dismounted to tighten my cinch.
“Guess it depends on who you talk to,” replied Blasco. “He can be right cantankerous. For sure, he knows how to play the edge of the law. He won’t go out of his way to break it, but he might skirt around it some. If Reston is helping him in some fashion I don’t want to dilly-dally around so he could get word to him before we reach Raton.”
I mounted, then pulled the collar up around my neck. The wind was picking up and it was cold. I could also begin to feel the tingling in my toes. I’d put on a pair of wool socks; tried to get on two pair, but couldn’t get my boots on.
“The railroad will put him out of business, but he’ll work out some way to get sweet on the deal. Right now, he’s fighting the State ’cause they say he has to give up this tollway. But he’s getting old; he’s one of the true old-timers that hung around,” Blasco continued to inform me. He nodded, I returned it and he commanded, “Let’s go!”
In a couple of hours we reached the summit. We knew we were getting close as the wagons began to stack up in line waiting to pass through the toll area. We skirted around them, Jens said we had priority status. As we approached I could see an old man arguing with a teamster.
“Pull yur wagon over to the side!” hollered Wooten waving a shotgun. “Do it, or I’ll kill yur two lead mules!”
“You wouldn’t!” barked the man in return.
There was a smile that came across the old man’s face. He walked to the first mule, placed the shotgun alongside the mule’s head. Quickly he raised it just over the mule’s head and fired. The team jumped, the mule reared up as if shot.
“Next one goes in its brain,” stated Wooten. “Move yur wagon, yur holdin’ up business!”
The teamster moved to check his mule. “Move it now! It’s only deaf!”
“Hello, Dick,” said Blasco in a friendly manner. “Having some trouble?”
The old man looked up, fire in his eyes. He looked wild with gray hair coming from under his hat, he had a gruffly, tangled beard that bore the stains of tobacco, coffee, and whiskey.
“Why if it ain’t Marshal Jens Blasco,” he said lowering his shotgun after he had reloaded the one barrel. “Nah, nothin’ I can’t handle. The louse of a man wouldn’t show me his manifest so I could properly assess his fee.” He pointed with the shotgun to the wagons backed up on both sides. “Slowed up traffic,” he stopped to look at me. “This fellow with you?”
“Sorry, Dick, this is one of my deputies, Miles Forrest.”
He walked up to me, smiled when he saw I had the Greener in my hands. “He a good un?” he asked Blasco.
“Seems to me I’ve heard that name, Forrest, Forrest, hmmm. Well, youngster yuh seem ready.”
It sort of stunned me to be called “youngster”, but I guess compared to him I was just a schoolboy. “Well, Mr. Wooten, I try to travel with the Lord and keep my guns handy,” I responded to which he grunted and gave a little chuckle.
Wooten went back to Blasco. “Let’s see, two men, two horses…no pack animal–that’s a dollar and a half a piece.”
Jens leaned down looking at Wooten. “Oh, yes, minus the government discount. That’ll be a dollar for each of yuh.”
“Pay the man,” he hollered at me then turned his horse on down the road.
That brought a good laugh from Wooten. “That’s why I’m only the deputy,” I said handing the man two silver coins. That brought another good laugh.
I gave the horse a slight kick to follow Blasco to Raton and to who knows what…
It was a rough, hard land, and we learned to walk careful and keep our eyes open, trusting in the Lord and a fast gunhand.”
–Louis L’Amour (Chancy)
“I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. And men will rise up from your own number with deviant doctrines to lure the disciples into following them.”
–Acts 20:29-30 (HCSB)
Was that the howling of the winds rushing down the canyon stirring through the tops of the pines? No, wait, it was the howl of wolves stalking their prey, waiting for the right moment to attack and devour. January is almost over (can you believe it?) and I haven’t written about how bitter the weather was and the “wolves.”
This song rates right up there, at least in the top fifty, of my favorites. I first heard it years ago when Garth Brooksstarted singing. Since then several artists have put it out. Written by Stephanie Davis, it tells a sad story, but look closer–there is a spiritual analogy.
Wolves are master predators. They use various means to stalk their prey and they prefer to eat it alive. Upon finding a victim they will attempt to tear out the vital organs by ripping at the stomach. If that isn’t successful they will hamstring the chosen animal, then when it is crippled have its way with the victim. Their thirst slackened by the blood from the victim, they tear out the vital organs first, leaving whatever remains for the mangy coyotes. In the same way there are wolves that seek to pull the life from your soul.
Do you ever think of your friends, those that don’t seem to want much of the Lord? Those that just drift along in life. How about those that go to church, but never seem to get closer to the Lord, they don’t read the Bible, they don’t pray? Maybe they were once vibrant Christians but now they seemed to have slowed down in their walk. Will they become victims of the wolves? Don’t forget, the enemy of our souls, sends out wolves to destroy and kill. Let’s look at this song (I’m leaving out verse two).
“January’s always bitter
But Lord, this one beats all
The wind ain’t quit for weeks now
And the drifts are ten feet tall
I been all night drivin’ heifers
Closer in to lower ground
Then I spent the mornin’ thinkin’
‘Bout the ones the wolves pulled down.
. . .
Lord, please shine a light of hope
On those of us who fall behind
And when we stumble in the snow
Could you help us up while there’s still time?
Well, I don’t mean to be complainin’ Lord
You’ve always seen me through
And I know you got your reasons
For each and every thing you do
But tonight outside my window
There’s a lonesome, mournful sound
And I just can’t keep from thinkin’
‘Bout the ones the wolves pull down.
Oh Lord, keep me from bein’
The one the wolves pull down.”
Listen, wolves may be cute animals, and they are subject of much controversy in some circles today, but never forget they are predators. There are all sorts of wolves our in society. There are wolves in the pulpit, there are wolves in the government and in business. Don’t think they are just cute, playful animals lest they lunge at you, snarling and gnashing their teeth…wanting to devour.
“Oh Lord, keep me from bein’
The one the wolves pull down!”
Always do what you think is right. Most times it will be so. The other times we leave to God.”
–Elmer Kelton (The Way of the Coyote)
“We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”
–Romans 5:2 (HCSB)
Let me ask a simple question as we finish looking and meditating on this portion of Psalm 33. When you are at church and are singing “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine…” sorry, we don’t sing the hymns anymore. Think of a truly doctrinal worship song that you sing then ask yourself: Do I really believe what I sing?
The end of this Psalm, “We wait in hope for the LORD…” Where is your hope? Is your hope in your bank account, or the government, or the goodness of mankind? If so, it is a failing and useless hope. Our hope is and must be always in Him for His will must always be done.
One reason there is so much hatred and unhappiness among people is that we have forsaken the Lord. There is confusion, there is no moral absolute, but it is all based on the whims of man. Don’t think for a moment that God is not watching; that He is not observing what is going on, not only in our country, but throughout the world.
Listen! Trust in the Lord. Praise should flow from us and remember, it is through praise that we affirm the truth about God. He is watching over His people. Never forget the words of the prophet Malachi, “I the Lord do not change.” (3.6) When people, society, culture is clamoring for their agenda do not forget that the Lord does not change, and whatever happens His “unfailing love rests upon us.”
10 – The Lord frustrates the counsel of the nations; He thwarts the plans of the peoples.
11 – The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation.
12 – Happy is the nation whose God is Yahweh—the people He has chosen to be His own possession!
13 – The Lord looks down from heaven; He observes everyone.
14 – He gazes on all the inhabitants of the earth from His dwelling place.
15 – He alone shapes their hearts; He considers all their works.
16 – A king is not saved by a large army; a warrior will not be delivered by great strength.
17 – The horse is a false hope for safety; it provides no escape by its great power.
18 – Now the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him—those who depend on His faithful love
19 – to deliver them from death and to keep them alive in famine.
20 – We wait for Yahweh; He is our help and shield.
21 – For our hearts rejoice in Him because we trust in His holy name.
22 – May Your faithful love rest on us, Yahweh, for we put our hope in You. (HCSB)
“Praise the Lord! for he is glorious;
Never shall his promise fail.
God hath made his saints victorious;
Sin and death shall not prevail.”
Cup of black, tonsil-searing, up-and-at-‘em juice in hand…lurched, as though still not quite awake.”
–J. Lee Butts (And Kill Them All)
Yippi-ki-ti-yo, another day the Lord has given us. Don’t forget to be thankin’ Him for it, Pard. The day the Lord has made and given us along with some of my “go-get-’em” juice of hot, black, and strong coffee–what else could a person need?
I hope you ain’t all in a dither over the commotion those bureaucrats are causin’ up in Washington. Talk about confusion! Read just a little about the goin’s on and you can understand my feelin’s toward most bureaucrats. I know, yuh can’t lump them all in the same barrel, but my shucks, it’d come close.
Sip yur coffee and I’ll tell yuh somethin’. Confusion comes right from the “father of lies; yep, the devil himself! There’s no need to be confused, just go to the Book. The Lord has spelled out how to live in the Bible. If’n anyone tells you different it’s because they have an agenda and are fulfilling it for the father of lies, or they are just plain old confused.
Don’t be a-listenin’ to the lies. Why, I saw where someone from CNN completely made up a conversation between two senators. Now is that isn’t in the footsteps of the devil, I don’t know what is. A journalist makin’ up lies, how ’bout that! Will he get fired? Well, Pard, don’t hold yur breath over it.
Like I was sayin’, enjoy yur coffee, follow the words of the Lord in the Bible, and you’ll make it all right. That is if yuh don’t fall out of the saddle because yuh didn’t check yur cinch.