Hooley knew what the rest of the ranchers were thinking. He’d heard what they said around the cafe coffee cups and the hay bale harassings. These things the ranchers said were mild sauce compared to what the church folks were saying.
He had a rag-tag outfit of cowboys. They were good guys, but they were more likely found chasin’ skirts and silver cans rather than upright livin’.
Hooley did his best to lead them by example instead of word. He never preached to them, but he sure enough said his prayers every night and included ‘em. He didn’t shun ‘em when he knew they was hung over, but he didn’t take the post hole digger out of their hand just because of a headache either.
Hooley managed the best ranch in three counties. His cattle brought just a little more at the auction. His grass was always a little greener due to the rain he got (which was always just a little more than everywhere else). His horses were sought after nearly as much as his advice.
Some said he was lucky. Some thought he had a secret that he wasn’t sharing. Still others, mainly in the church circles, thought he must have made a deal with the devil.
When a popular cowboy magazine asked to interview him, Hooley agreed. The reporter only wanted to talk about two things: his success and his ornery cowboys.
Hooley really didn’t see the success the same way the reporter did. When asked what his feeding regimen was, Hooley just said that God provided the feed. The reporter asked how he was able to turn out so many good horses and Hooley just said that he loved ‘em like God loved him.
The hard hitting reporter then asked him about his rambunctious cowboys. Rumor had it that he was a God fearin’ man, yet his cowboys were the worst of the worst sinners. “Why does a Christian cowboy like yourself tolerate and condone the sinful actions of your cowboys? You must know their reputation and how it affects yours,” the reporter said.
Hooley rolled the toothpick in his mouth from the left to the right side as he said, “Each of us has his own trail to follow. My job isn’t to make you go down the right trail. I just show you the way. Them boys will one day grow up and see that trail. When they ask, I tell ‘em straight. When they watch, I show ‘em true.”
Hooley pointed out towards a group of fat cattle in the distance. “Where you see green grass, fat cows, and good horses, I see a chance to do what’s right in the eyes of the Lord.”
Jotham always did what pleased the Lord, just as his father Uzziah had done. The folks he led though were corrupt and rode every trail but the right one…Jotham grew powerful and successful because he rode steadfastly for the Lord his God. 2 Chronicles 27:2,6 (Simplified Cowboy Version)
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