Camper Contentedness

by Jake Hershey on December 30, 2012

One of my best friends has left the country.  That’s not exactly true.  It just feels like it to me.  But he did leave Texas. He and his wife left the day after Christmas for Arizona.  They’re not snowbirds or retirees who are going there to spend the winter in a nice condo and then return home in the spring.  They have left for good.  They left a nice brick home with central heat and air in a nice subdivision.

They headed there with everything they owned in a half ton short bed pickup, a 4 door dually pickup and a 20 foot gooseneck stock trailer (which had 4 horses in it).  When they arrived, it was snowing.  The temps have been in the teens at night and in the forty’s by day.  Their new home is a 30 year old bumper pull camper…with no electricity, heat, or running water.  You might think this a tale of woe brought on by the economy, or an illness, or even a tragic accident in their family, etc.  You’d be wrong.  Allow me to explain.

My friend is many things but at the top of that list would be the words Christian and Cowboy.  Like many of us, he has a wild past full of drunken nights, bar fights, wild women, wilder cattle, horse wrecks and the like.  A few years ago God took a’holt of him.  My friend got down on his knees, asked for forgiveness of his sins and asked Jesus Christ to take the reins of his life.  Like me, he didn’t know it at the time but God had called him into ministry.  Up until last week my friend has been the pastor of a cowboy church for over 4 years.  The last cowboy church he was the pastor of came with that nice brick house…the one he and his wife just left for a tiny camper in a pasture with no utilities.  So what happened, you ask?  Did he “fall from grace”?  No.  Was he asked to leave?  No.

My friend has always felt called to a certain segment of the population, the cowpuncher.  Although he and his wife were reaching folks at the church, he couldn’t shake the feeling that he was called to share Christ with men that were nowhere near the location of their church…and even if they were, they wouldn’t come for at least two reasons 1) It was in town and 2)They were working.  So, when he met a cowpuncher traveling thru on his way to another job, he and his wife went with him.  They are now on a 64,000 acre ranch.  My friend is one of 5 cowboys that have hired on to gather and work all of the cattle.  His wife has been hired to cook for the crew.  Their pay is less than minimum wage.  The living conditions are rough to say the least.  The first day he was there he got so sick and dehydrated due to lack of sleep from driving 18 hours straight and going to work, a stomach bug and no drinking water that he passed out and woke up covered in his own puke.  He got back on his horse and finished the day.  He crawled into his bedroll and slept next to his wife in her bedroll in the below freezing temperature.  The next day, he rode for 10 hours but was feeling better.  The third day was today…Sunday…the first Sunday he and his wife haven’t been in an actual church building for several years.  Instead, he was horseback by sunup and punched cows all day while his wife prepared meals for the crew on the campfire.

My friend and his wife have never been happier.  I asked him about the crew he was working with and he said, “They’re a good bunch of fellars.  They use some pretty salty language and such, but they’re good guys.”  I asked him about not being “in a church” for the first time in years today.  He said, “We’re having church…them other guys just don’t know it…and we’re having it in God’s cathedral.”  I asked if he and his wife were at peace and if there was an opportunity to minister to the cowpunchers they were with.  He said, “We’ve never been happier and they’re learnin’ about the Lord and don’t even know it….yet.”

My friend hasn’t even mentioned God to them yet.  They know he has been a pastor for several years…he doesn’t need to beat’em over the head with the Jesus stick.  This is what he told me.

He said, “They know about me and I’m not gonna shove Jesus down their throats.  I take my hat off and pray every morning before I swing a leg over my mount.  I take my hat off and thank God for the food at every meal.  I try to watch my language and my actions like I always have.  I read my bible by the light of the campfire.  They don’t mention it, but I know they see it.  And when they’re ready, they can ask me about it.  We’re having church all the time….they just don’t know it yet.  And I’m gathering more than one kind of stray.”

How many of us would sacrifice almost all of our worldly possessions, a guaranteed salary with benefits, our home, etc., to go and reach the lost?  Some folks do…but it’s usually in third world countries.  It warms my heart that there is a man whose cowboy skills are good enough to make a living and be respected by other cowboys, but who is also called to let’em know about the love of Christ.  And that he and his wife have the guts to answer that call.  We’re all called to reach the lost and that can be and is done in a zillion different ways.  How many of us feel a tug on our heart strings to do something for God, but we just don’t have the guts?  If only we would get it through our thick skulls that if it’s what God wants us to do then it’s the right thing to do and the results will be great.  Most people would think my friends are crazy.  I think they’re awesome.  And so does God.

As you lay down in your warm bed tonight and listen to the furnace kick on, or take a shower with running (and hot) water in the morning, etc., think about how blessed you are that God has allowed you to have all the things that you do.  Then think about what it is that he’s been telling you to do for Him.  I’m gonna bet it doesn’t involve selling your worldly possessions, living in a rat hole camper with no utilities and working 7 days a week punching cows for next to nothing.  But even if it did, here’s proof that you’d be happier than you have ever been.

As we start a new year tomorrow, what better time to commit to doing what God’s told ya to?  Who cares what anyone else thinks?  Do it without fear, don’t back up or quit……and find out what it’s like to have real peace and satisfaction in your life.  How’s that for a New Year’s Resolution?

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7

Happy New Year to you’n yers my friends.

Jake Hershey 12/30/12

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  • Paul Weatherby

    Amen Jake. Every day is a Blessing when we ride with/for The Lord. Whether it be the “Foot prints in the Sand” or riding “Flank” in the thickness of the “Brush of Life”, he is always there with us. Every day can be a “New Years Resolution” to share The Lord with others. Keep up the good work and God Bless you and your family.

    • You bet, Paul. God bless you’n yers as well my friend.

  • Lynn Degano

    I don’t have words of wisdom or anything witty to add other than I am so glad to know these folks you wrote about personally. I have been graced by their grace and I am happy to have them in my life. Always uplifting and as punchy as it gets. Big hearts and big smiles through rain, sleet and snow but always perservere because they have our God and have been blessed with eachother.

    • Yes ma’am. God bless yall and keep warm up there in Wyoming.

  • Brian Becker

    Well spoken Jake — obliged

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