You’ve Never Heard It Like This Before

by Kevin on April 8, 2012

The stud kicked at the man that had just put some sweet feed in the trough. How dare this man come so close to him and his mares? Didn’t this human realize who he was?!

The stud didn’t know or understand the details, but he knew he was important. Since birth, he had been trained to keep one cow away from the rest of the herd—and he was good at it!

Everywhere he went, people marveled at him. He held his head up proudly and folks walked by and smiled in obvious appreciation. Every time he performed in the big circle, surrounded by cheering fans, he always walked away a winner. He’d never met his match when it came to blockin’ where a cow wanted to go.

This type of ability came with some welcomed rewards. The cowboy that owned him and rode him was a humble man. He had never beaten or mistreated the stud in any way.

The cowboy always seemed to stay just out of reach of his hind feet when the stud would try to kick him when he came to clean out his stall. The cowboy wore a thick jacket when he was shoein’ the stud. One of his favorite games was to wait for the cowboy’s back to be turned and just as the nail would break through the hoof wall, before he could twist it off, he would turn and bite him right on the back.

The cowboy had never missed a morning or evening feedin’ time. When the sun was out and the weather was pretty, he and all his mares would be turned out into a big pasture where they could graze and run.

This is where the stud felt most alive. Out here, away from the cowboy and his combs and feed buckets. The stud didn’t need this two legged creature. He was king of his world and new ladies were constantly being brought to him. Life couldn’t get much better.

When the storms or rain would build up, the stud knew that all he had to do was go stand at the gate and his servant would come and usher the king into his throne room where it was safe and dry. Fresh straw would be laid in his room for his comfort and completely changed each day. He used these times to torment his servant cowboy just to relieve the boredom.

Until the rains or the snows stopped, the stud took his frustrations out on the cowboy. Even though this man brought him food, cleaned his stall, changed the bedding, washed the trough out and put in clean water, the stud never tired of holdin’ his head up high in blatant disdain for the cowboy.

One day, after his morning meal had been served to him in a silver bucket, the stud saw the warm sunshine that called out to him from the barn door. He knew today that he and his concubines, followed by some of his kids that had been born, would be turned out to the wide open space that he loved so much. He clearly displayed his displeasure at not being turned out immediately and did his best to kick and bite the man as he combed out his mane and tail. With the patience of Job, the cowboy just tended to his duties, seemingly unaware of the sorry attitude of this proud stud.

When he and all the mares were finally turned out, he ran and bucked and slung his head, showin’ off for the new girls and exerting his dominance for the entire world to see.

He trotted off to the far side of the pasture, knowing without looking, that he would be followed and expecting as much. He wanted to get as far away from that cowboy that pestered and bothered him so much.

The day was perfect, even though it was windy.  He didn’t mind the wind because it kept the flies away. He watched as two foals jumped around and played. The chorus of birds in the trees seemed to be singing his anthem. Pride swelled in his heart as he surveyed his kingdom.

Later on that afternoon, a belly full of grass and the sun shining on his face, something caused the stud to raise his head. At first he couldn’t see anything, but he continued to watch as something deep inside him told him that something was not right.

He took a few steps towards the west where the barn and stables were. His eyes scanned every bush and his ears were shot forward in intense concentration.

THERE!!!….He caught a slight movement between him and the barn. The barn and pens were at least two miles away, but something was moving between him and his castle. It flickered on the ground, but seemed to take flight like a flock of birds and then disappear as it rose in the air.

He’d seen this dancing light before when they were working calves. He knew it was hot and gave off heat, but this fire wasn’t heating up branding irons, it was eating up the pasture…and it was headed his way.

He could smell the smoke now, a pungent smell of burnt grass and trees. He stood there for a second running over the options he had. A stud doesn’t make things complicated; it’s either fight or flight.

He reared in frustration and yelled the signal for retreat. He herded his group away from the rapidly growing menace and looked back as they all ran towards the far side of the pasture.

They got to the fence line and he sent them right. Down there was a brushy copse that they might be able to hide in. He’d used it several times to hide from the cowboy when he didn’t feel like going back to the barn.

The smoke was startin’ to burn his eyes and lungs now. Where he used to be able to see for miles, visibility was reduced now to just a few hundred feet.

They reached the brushy area with trees and huddled inside it’s seeming protection. This was the corner of the pasture and it was where he knew they would either escape the fire or die in it.

The stud stood between his family and the racing fire. The wind that kept the flies off of him earlier now seemed to be pushin’ this chokin’ and deadly enemy straight towards them.

He watched helplessly as a foal tried to jump the fence in fear of the stinging smoke that seemed to be suffocating them all. The foal didn’t make it and he saw a scarlet gash open up on its chest and blood start to flow from the biting wire that surrounded his kingdom.

The mares placed the foals behind them in an attempt to shield them from the smoke and fire. It was so hard to breathe now and for the first time in his life, the stud felt true fear. His eyes rolled and his nostrils flared only to have them filled with smoke.

The fire was only about 100 yards away and already most of the foals had collapsed from breathing the smoke. Day had turned to night and the air had become lethal. If only there was a way out!

Embers, like the fire flies the stud used to watch, landed on him and burned his skin. He couldn’t go anywhere…he couldn’t fight…his family was dying…there was only one thing left to do.

He raised his head and with all the power he had, with every muscle that had ever moved a cow, with all the clean air he had left in his powerful lungs, he cried out for help.

Again he cried out as he watched another mare go down. He reared up again and let another cry. The grass was catchin’ fire around them and he used the last of his energy to stomp on them. He knew little else to do.

He went to cry out again, but something was wrong. There was no air left and darkness started closing in from the sides. Like a giant curtain bein’ drawn around him, his vision bid a farewell.

He hit his knees, not out of will or want, but because his legs no longer supported him. He tried to stay up, but it was no use. He was out of time. He was out of air. He was out of strength. He was out of hope.

He would trade this moment for another combing of his tail from the cowboy any day. He wouldn’t kick or bite or even move. To have that cowboy nail a thousand shoes to his feet at this moment would be better than one more second of this. He wouldn’t even pull back or bite if given another chance. Is this how it always ends, with nothing but a bunch of “If only’s” racing through your mind?

As he laid there gasping nothing but rotten air, he thought he saw something in the flames; the flames that were nearly upon him. He could feel the heat now, he could smell his hair starting to burn. But there it was again, movement in the flames and now a sound.

The last thing the stud saw was the old ranch pickup emerge from the fire. The truck smoked as the fires tried in vain to bring it down. Sitting in the driver seat was the cowboy.

The cowboy slid the truck to a stop, but didn’t come to check on the stud. Instead, he ran to the back of the truck where there was a tank. He did something and water started to spray out of a stick that he held.

The stud felt cool water land on him as his eyes closed….for the last time.

He felt a hand on his neck. Was that a man’s voice he heard? Surely it couldn’t be!

He felt an old familiar sensation as a halter was placed around his nose. He opened his eyes and saw nothing but black earth all around. The voice he heard had an urging quality to it.

All at once, the fear, like waking from a bad dream, rushed in on him and he jumped to his feet. Soothing voices and soft hands comforted him.

All of the cowboy’s friends that he had seen so many times were there. They were tending to the mares and foals, most of who were getting up. Particular attention was bein’ paid to the foal with the bad cut.

The stud looked around, whippin’ his head back and forth, calling for the cowboy that had always been there for him, no matter the time of day or month of the year. He looked for the one friend he knew in life. Everywhere he looked, he only saw blackness of charred grass and trees, but no cowboy.

The truck that he had seen burst through the flames now resembled a burnt piece of wood. As he was led to a waiting truck and trailer, he noticed two people kneeling over a black mound of dirt. They were obviously upset and were crying, their hands over their faces. He couldn’t understand what this was all about….until he saw that the mound of what he thought was dirt, had cowboy boots on.

As the trailer pulled away, the stud saw that everything had been burned; everything except the area where he and his family had succumbed to the smoke. And like a headstone on a grave, the burned pickup marked the spot where his savior had died….for him.

The stud still loves the pasture, only this time, it’s for a different reason. He doesn’t understand why, but whenever he is turned out, he is drawn to that back corner.

He remembers the place, that little brushy spot in the corner where he had cried out against the smoke and flames that were killing him and his family. He’ll never forget that day even though the land bears fewer scars than his heart does.

As he walks up to the place, he stops at a large piece of wood stuck in the ground where he had last seen the cowboy. This is where he finds his peace. He is comforted by this place of tragedy, but a sadness still remains.

The stud wishes he could get combed out one more time by the man that had cared for him for so long. If he could only lift a hoof and feel it between the cowboy’s legs again. What he wouldn’t give for a soft rub on the nose from the man he had once despised, but now loved.

But that can’t happen now, so instead of rearing up in foolish pride, he bows his head in humble remembrance of the sacrifice that was made for him. The last time he hit his knees here, it was in the grasp of death. Now, he hits his knees is the grasp of living gratitude.


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  • margie

    Thanks…just what I needed to wake up to this Easter morning…have shared it with my group!

  • Kristin Warren, Pontotoc, MS

    Had to work this Easter Sunday and didn’t get to make it to Church. Read this earlier this morning and now listening to you preach it on krks. Hope this sermon audio will be added on here. That’s one that I’d like to listen again. Hope you and your family have a blessed Easter.

  • Wow, Kevin! That is pretty dadgum powerful! Thanks!

  • beverly sparks

    kevin, it had a BIG impact on my family! thanks for all that you do. may the Lord bless your hands, feet, mouth and mind:) beverly

  • Mona

    Beautiful…Powerful… Thank you

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