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PASTOR’S CORNER: Faith lessons on the trail

By Pastor Gary Dorn - Christ Community and HAMC | Sep 19, 2020

South Dakota’s Custer State Park is 110 sq. miles of beautiful rolling hills and granite spires. Along with that it has an abundance of wildlife: antelope, prairie dogs, “begging burros” (left behind almost 100 years ago after burro rides into the hills stopped), mountain lion, elk, whitetail, mule deer and about 1300 buffalo. They have an 18 mile “wildlife loop” road from which many of these animals can be seen and also miles of trails for hikers, bikers and horsemen. Some years back on a beautiful summer day after a five hour horseback ride we climbed a “Black Hill” for a lunchbreak under a big old tree with low hanging branches. We tied the horses around the back side, dropped the blankets in the sun to dry, had a quick lunch and the five of us – in true cowboy fashion used our saddles for pillows and laid down looking up into the amazing blue sky. A herd of about 300 buffalo grazing peacefully in the valley far below added to the picturesque scene. Not planned, but not unexpected we fell asleep – until I heard a grunt that didn’t sound like Cousin Ken.

Turns out the buffalo had grazed up the hill and now surrounded the tree – and us. I had heard of irresponsible folks being mauled by wild animals – but didn’t really want to be one. I quietly woke the gang up and suggested we nonchalantly saddle up and prepare for a quick departure – which was a great idea, but the grazing circle quickly got smaller as they moved into the shade.

Ken who was never known to be a rocket scientist picked up a softball size rock and slow pitched it into the ribs of the biggest buffalo and got the response he hoped for. Buffalo #1 thought that nearby #2 was the culprit and turned on him causing a ruckus that worked back down the hill and the rest followed to see the excitement, and of course we quickly headed in the other direction. Old Testament Joshua was a warrior for God and faced trials like we will never see, but in this it is recorded: “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:7-9). Perhaps the challenges you are facing today seem bigger than a buffalo – but it surely is not bigger than our Almighty God and we know from His Word that if we chose to walk with Him – He will be with you wherever you go! Blessings and protection as we continue through this “novel” chapter of this great life!

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