Double Barrel

“When your child is in imminent danger thirty feet is like a mile.”

Surely twomen-drivers-virgil-stephenshe arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. Is 59:1


A while ago, back when we were still ranching on the Heyu-Cow, we needed to move some cows from one pasture to another. We had what was called the lower pasture where we would pasture some cows in the spring and then move them a mile or so up the road to the upper pasture. This involved a little round up to get all the cows and calves out of the pasture, through the gate and onto the road. This usually required a few people on horses and a pick up or two.

Most years this meant that we would have to get a couple neighbors or a friend or two to come help with our little cattle drive. One particular year we were kind of short on horses so some friends from church offered to bring out a few horses and help out. So on round up day they showed up bright and early with their horses in tow, including one big gelding named Silas, that my wife, Donna, rode. Everything went well, we got the cattle in the lower pasture—a hundred acres of badlands—all rounded up, out the gate, up the road, and into their summer pasture. Then everyone rode back to the house to let the horses cool off and have some lunch.

Once back at the house our daughter Jessie, who was two at the time, asked if she could ride the horsy. Donna had been riding the big gelding all day and they had gotten along well, so trusting the well broken horse she set Jessie up on the saddle and starting leading him to the trailer. After they had gone a few feet Donna asked Jessie if she was having fun. Jessie said in her little girl voice; “Uh, huh.” All of a sudden that horse came uncorked and starting bucking like there was a mountain Lion on his back.

Jessie, hanging on to the saddle horn, started screaming and this only made Silas even more determined to rid himself of this shrieking creature. The only thing we could figure out was that she was so light that Silas didn’t know she was there until she said something and that just freaked him out. I’m seeing all this from about thirty feet away and I started running towards them knowing there was little chance of getting there in time. When your child is in imminent danger thirty feet is like a mile.

At the same time I’m trying to cover the impossible distance, Donna is holding on to the lead rope with one hand trying to control the panicked horse, and reach for Jessie with the other hand. She was wishing her arms were longer— but you know what? I will never forget this sight as long as I live. While still holding that bucking horse with her left hand she grabbed a hold of Jessie’s arm with her right hand and pulled her right up out of the saddle—which wasn’t hard because she was about to be launched—letting go of the horse the instant Jessie was clear so she could hold her in both arms, at this moment the horse spun around and aiming for the screaming little girl let loose with what Donna called later, both barrels, and hit Donna just above the knees on both legs with a terrible whap!.

Just then I got there, and Donna breathlessly said “Take her” as she handed me Jessie, terrified but wholly unscathed. Then Donna staggered over to the edge of the driveway, laid down in the grass and passed out for a few moments from the pain of the blast she had just taken from the massive beast who suddenly was not her buddy anymore.

After a few moments Donna was able to shake it off and was okay. She had some nasty bruises for a while but she had saved her daughter and that was all that mattered. Thank God for super human mommy powers.


Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear. Is 59:1


We are blessed to know, because we have the stories and incredible history recorded in the Bible covering many thousands of years, that we have a God who is involved in a very real way in his creation even though it seems sometimes that all is just chaos with no possible way out. But there is always a plan. And we are also blessed to know that there is always a plan for us as individuals too.

We are blessed to know that, God hears one cry at a time and reaches out to take your hand.  He can do that in a very real sense, with nothing hindering him being there for you, because of what was accomplished on the cross so long ago. No longer can our sins cause our Father to turn away, no longer do we have to wait for the promised one, he has come, he is here, his arm is not too short to save nor his ear to dull to hear.

Donna knew when her little girl was screaming in terror that nothing was going to prevent her from getting her off that saddle. To Jessie, that 8 second or so ride probably seemed like an eternity, I know it did to me as I was trying in vain to get there in time. But then the arm reached her, in spite of the pain that Donna had to suffer when that huge, out of control horse turned on her, she rescued her little girl.

I know Donna would willingly do the same thing over and over without hesitation and in fact she still bears the marks on her legs from those kicks, but to her it is just a reminder of her love and an assurance that her daughter is safe, and still here.

Jesus did that for you. He grabbed a hold of that which threatened to destroy you, reached out and snatched you from certain death and he would not hesitate to do it again, even knowing the great pain it will cause him. He still carries the marks, and they remind him of his great love for you. When he opens his hands and see the scars he is reminded of his great love for you, he knows that you are safe, you are in the palm of his hands.

Do not fear, he hears you.

He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Mark 4:40






Be the Dad


A Secure Fortress

daddy daughter

-Not so many years ago, Donna and I were sitting in the office of a modular home dealer when we got a phone call from our oldest daughter Cally.  She was calling to tell us she had just been in a wreck, after she assured us she was okay we headed to the scene and arrived to find her and her friend Sarah standing on the sidewalk talking to the elderly gentleman she had run into.  She was 17 or so and still fairly new at the driving thing and while driving down busy 24th street west in Billings, she had gotten distracted by a radio station’s set up in the Mall parking lot and didn’t notice the car in front of her stopping until it was too late… wham!  She rear-ended a car on in the minivan we had just given her to drive.

She was very shaken up, mostly from being slammed in the face by the air bag and worried about wrecking the van.  Donna gave her a hug and made sure she was ok.  I then talked to the man she had hit, made sure the insurance info had been exchanged, the cops had been called, the toxic airbag dust had been cleaned off her face, checked the damage to the vehicles and assured Cally in my best daddy has it handled voice that everything was going to be ok.  All the things that needed to be done were done- or so I thought.

As we stood together on the sidewalk waiting for the police to arrive I saw that she was still visibly shaken so I grabbed her in a big bear hug and she just fell apart- sobbing and shaking as I held her until she got it all out.  Then she was ok.

In the days to follow I found myself going back to that moment over and over, dwelling on that moment when Cally had melted in my arms; and it made me feel good.  It was a special moment; why did it make me feel good?  I mean, this was probably one of her worst days to this point, she felt awful and I certainly took no delight in her anguish.  But it was special to me because I knew at that moment, that she trusted me.  It was special to me because I was a refuge for her, a place where she felt safe, safe to fall apart, to be scared, to be weak and to let those things go.

I had arrived and taken care of business and that was important, but that was not enough.  Because I had established a relationship of trust with her over years, she knew she had a safe place to turn−a refuge.  And it told me that I had done my job as a father.  That is why it was special to me.  If you ask me, any man that does not want to be his child’s hero is no man at all.  Being that hero means being there.

As the old proverb says:

 “He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress and for his children it will be a refuge.” Proverbs 14:26

I believe every man has a God given desire to protect, defend and provide.  He is naturally jealous for those he loves and given the opportunity, or the provocation, this instinct can be a passionate, all-consuming drive.  It is knowing how to channel this drive, how to keep it going in a healthy direction that is hard because there are many other things wired into us that confuse our good intent.  Some of these other things are good, some are bad.  This desire to protect, defend and provide are a reflection of the Lord in us as men who are created in his image.

A famous old preacher named G. Campbell Morgan once wrote:

“Sometimes we say that God has taken our name “father” in order to teach us what he is. That is not a correct statement.  God has lent us his name, Father, in order to teach us what we ought to be.” 

It is by sticking close to the Lord, meditating on his word, that we keep that father drive in us headed in the right direction.  It’s more like a hard drive in us, and like a computer’s hard drive it can get viruses and even be wiped out.  That is why fathers sometimes hurt those they are supposed to protect, why they give up and leave, they have let the lies of the flesh dominate their thinking, the selfishness instead of the selflessness of the spirit.

The best way to operate correctly in the father mode of the Lord is to tap into the Spirit of the perfect Father, the Father who loves, protects and provides.  The Father who lets us choose our way and teaches us the consequences of bad decisions, who teaches us that life is hard but that we will get through it, even enjoy it, if it is lived in him, with him, and for him.

Women have this desire to love protect and provide but it manifests itself in a very different way; a way that compliments the father’s way and brings balance to a child’s life.  A woman’s protecting, nurturing and providing is best done under the umbrella of the husband, this is the submission and respect part in the scriptural roles of a functional family.  Mother’s provide primarily from what the father has provided, they protect while being protected by the father, the strong fortress, and they love sacrificially while being loved sacrificially.

Dad’s, you have a solemn duty to guard the fortress you have been entrusted with, use the weapons of the Spirit to guard, and your hands to provide and bless those within your fortress- Never to hurt or do harm.

I guarantee you, your children will one day face monsters much bigger than fender benders in front of the mall−will they still come to you? If you are there with a loving and strong arms today−they will.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Eph 6:13

Adapted from the book: Hope For Families by Dan Swaningson

Happy Father’s Day!