A Nefarious Shetland
(Pinckneyville, Illinois, circa 1971)
When I was about ten, we lived three miles north of Pinckneyville on Highway 127 in the tiny parsonage of the Oak Grove Baptist Church. It was 1971 and my father served as the pastor, worship director, secretary, youth director, custodian, bus driver and exterminator of the small country congregation. The house in which we lived has been moved off the church property about two hundred yards to the north, but it is still there if you drive by. In those days, there was a huge, metal fire tower to the south of the church nestled in a small pine grove. I loved to climb that thing. From there I could see the world! Every now and then I would buy a wooden glider airplane from the Ben Franklin Dime store on the town square, take it to the top and let her soar! I always imagined it flew for miles and maybe a kid in Okawville would find it and think God sent him a free airplane. It was a great life!
We had a dog named Sniffee (he sniffed a lot and I was very clever with names), a grey-spotted white cat named Loopy, and two Shetland ponies named Brownie and Ginger. Brownie was a brown pony (I told you I was clever with names) and about two hundred years old. In fact, dad had ridden Brownie when he was a boy. It was her final offspring, a palomino named Ginger that was my particular nemesis. This animal was a fire-breathing spitfire with an untamable spirit who refused to be broken by man or boy. It was Ginger who dealt me my first life defeat when I tried to saddle break her and was punished by her fury. When she bucked me off, I would climb back on. When she bucked me off, I climbed back on again. If you are wondering how a human can get consistently bucked off a pony the size of a German shepherd, I want you to know that it is not only possible but likely if you mount a particularly nefarious pony. Finally, her persistence paid off; she broke me, I stopped climbing on and that was the end of it. I don’t think this is how stories are supposed to end…it is just the way most stories really do.
I have known a lot of people over the years that have big dreams in their hearts. But after they get “bucked off” a few times, they give up and settle for simply existing when they were created to truly live. Jesus said in John 10:10, “I have come that they might have life and life abundantly.” What if we absolutely refused to settle? What if our hopes, dreams and aspirations were put back on-line? Let’s start dreaming again. Let’s determine that when it comes to becoming the person God created us to be, we will never, ever, ever give up no matter how many times we get bucked off! The fire-breathing Shetland ponies of the world should never be allowed to win. And they won’t, as long as we keep climbing back on the saddle.
-Rev. Shane L. Bishop is the Sr, Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois,