Monday, September 18

My Dad Was A Cowboy

When my sons were little, they wanted to be pirates or superheroes. When my dad was little, his dream was to be a cowboy. My boys dressed up as pirates and superheroes; my dad dressed up as a cowboy. You'll notice in the photo that he's got the lasso, the bandana, and the chaps. All that's missing is the hat, and maybe the boots. Doesn't he look pleased with himself?

My boys haven't grown up to be pirates or superheroes--and that's not a bad thing--but my dad did grow up to live out the dream he had as a little boy living on a farm in western Kansas. After he served in the military, he worked as a cowboy in Kit Carson, Colorado. He loved his work riding the range and he didn't plan to ever be anything but a cowboy.

But sometimes other dreams take you by surprise. One day my cowboy dad was listening to the radio. I don't remember the name of the program he was listening to, but it included a presentation of the gospel. The Spirit "blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes", and that day the Spirit blew across the open range of Colorado and a cowboy was reborn.

And that was that. Before long, the cowboy had a different dream, and he became a student at Bryan College in Dayton, Tennesee. Next he was a pastor of a little church in Belleview, Idaho; then a student again (this time at Wheaton College in Illinois); and then a pastor and professor in northern Minnesota. He's now retired from teaching, but he still lives in Minnesota, where he co-pastors a little country church.

What happened to the cowboy dream? The interest didn't die--at least not completely. My dad bought a horse in Minnesota, but once the horse was thoroughly trained, the fun went out of it for him. My family sometimes went to Idaho in the summer so my dad could help out on my uncle's ranch; but while I'd say he really loved those breaks from his work and study, the cowboy life wasn't his dream anymore. He had a new dream--not to be a cowboy, but a servant--and that's a dream he's still living out.

I wonder what the Spirit can make of former pirates and superheroes?

Speaking of gospel radio, Tim Challies named Way of the Master Radio his latest King for a Week.