Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Wild Horses and Storms

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”—Psalm 46:1.

Wild horses! Just the thought of spotting them sent me trotting to the barn. It took me no time at all to saddle my horse, Nocona. To be quite honest, I really didn't think I'd see anything, as these horses run on about 64 million acres of Nevada Bureau of Land Management land. What are the odds of me finding them? But, hey, it was worth a shot.

I glanced at the sky with its gathering clouds, but figured I'd have plenty of time to quench my thirst for exploration that day. However, I tied my slicker on the back of my saddle, just in case—you never know in the backcountry.

Off I rode toward adventures unknown. The wind was up and so was my spirit. I felt like the proverbial kid-in-a-candy-store—so many possibilities. Topping the last hill, I caught my breath in sheer delight as I gazed at the entire high desert valley stretched out before me to the far mountains—not a soul out there but me and my horse as far as our eyes could see. I breathed deeply as the sweet smell of sage saturated the breeze.

We descended into the valley, absorbed in the vast beauty. Suddenly I sensed something looking at us. Slowly scanning the terrain, I saw them. A band of six jet-black wild horses calmly watched us from their hill. I could hardly contain my excitement.

Captivated, I spotted the stallion (a black stallion, no less) standing on the point. The breeze caught his mane and tail; they flowed softly behind him. I cried—I really did. Never in my life did I ever think I would witness this sight for real, not just in some movie. But then again, the Lord is ever so willing to give us more than we could ever ask or think and to give us the pure desires of our heart ... very cool! (Psalm 37:4) 

I could have stayed there all day with the Black Band, but the trail-less-traveled was beckoning, urging me to continue exploring this vast, wonderful land. I swung Nocona around and headed down the valley.

Riding the backcountry, one has to keep an eye on the trail—and another on the weather which, in this case, was becoming more unstable every minute. As I glanced toward Fred's Mountain, I noticed black clouds quickly gathering. Reluctantly, I decided to abandon my original trail ideas and head back to camp.

It was a good decision. With every step, the black cloud buildup was getting worse—that was on my right. To my left, huge white thunderheads formed and headed my way. If Nocona and I didn't hightail it out of there, we would be caught between both storms.
I had another decision to make: 1) take the shorter route toward the worst part of the storm and risk getting hit? Or, 2) take the longest route and hope I made it through? It wouldn't have been so bad except the boom of thunder foretold of lightning inching closer. We were up in an open valley and a prime target.

Did I start praying? You bet I did! "Jesus, keep us safe," I prayed, as I kept an eye on the black mass making its way over our heads.
I glanced at the sky again. Right between the mass of white thunderheads and the mass of blackness was a perfect trail of blue. Surprisingly, it pointed toward the longer route. I made my decision, threw on my slicker, and urged Nocona into a long trot, following that trail in the sky.

As serious as this situation was, I had to laugh. Looking up toward the "wild horse ridge," I spotted the herd watching us as Nocona and I hightailed it up their valley. What was going through their minds?

Trotting and loping, dodging sagebrush and cactus, we sailed off the ridge and raced across the valley floor. My slicker snapped in the air behind me as the wind grabbed it. My hat strained against its stampede string as it threatened to fly off my head, and I threw my hand up, pushing it down to my ears. My other hand grasped the bridle reins with a white-knuckled grip.

Urgent prayers went up again as we headed into open country, and I watched the lightning streaks flash to the ground. Suddenly I witnessed a miracle. The wind blasted toward us, but the black clouds moved away from us! As I prayed, the Lord spoke to my spirit, "I am bigger than the storm." Awed and encouraged, I swung Nocona toward our rig parked in the middle of the valley.

As we galloped toward camp, I glanced at Fred's Mountain—another set of storm clouds tried to make their way over the summit. I realized in amazement that some unseen force restrained them—another miracle.

At last we slid safely into camp and underneath the barn overhang. Only then were the clouds released. The downpour on the tin roof was deafening, but we were safe. And I thanked God for His goodness. 
(Psalm 91:14-15; Hebrews 1:7)


Walk Like a Warrior: Inspirational True Stories of God's Encouragement on the Trail Less-Traveled is available in paperback and eBook: https://www.amazon.com/Walk-Like-Warrior-Inspirational-Encouragement/dp/1512774812