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IN THE CARPENTER’S WORKSHOP: A cowboy rides into Lent

Springtime was not far way, the old cowboy mused.  As he chased another calf back to the herd, he saw that the snows of Montana were beginning to melt.

Montana Jack had crisscrossed the Midwest from California to Texas.  He had driven the chuck wagon, been a trail hand for more years than he wanted to count.  For the last 10 years, he had been the trail boss and owner of his own herd, which stood out there on the plain in front of him.

Two thousand head this year, headed back to Texas.  It was warmer down there, and people were good.

The Montana winter had been harsh.  He had lost more than two hundred cattle to the snow and bitter winds.  But they had made it through.

Now was the most challenging part of being a rancher and trail hand.  The cattle drive over thousands of miles.  Indians, rustlers, mountains and rivers, the air was full of danger and adventure.

He stood high in his stirrups to read the sign outside the small Wyoming town.  What did it say?  LENT.  What a strange name for a town!

Cowboys were familiar with lent.  Long hours of sitting a saddle wore the seat of his outfit, as well as the long johns, so that those little balls of lent were everywhere after a while. But why would you name a town that?  It seemed a mite unusual to call a town something that you didn’t want in real life.

Jack left the herd in the capable hands of the ramrod and rode into town.  He passed the general store and the saloon.  The brothel was in full swing, and the ladies were waving and beckoning customers, but none were stopping there, at least in the daylight.

He saw that the sign was in front of a church.  Tossing the reigns over the hitching post, he rolled up the stairs and saw the parson sitting at a table inside.

“Nice weather we’re havin’,” were Jack’s first words.  It seemed that every conversation started with the weather.  “Just wanted to ask about the sign.”

“Yes, we get a lot of questions about that,” was the kind reply.

“Why would you put a laundry issue on a board like that?  It just don’t seem that important to air underwear issues in public.”

“Funny you should ask.  Have a seat, and I’ll attempt to explain.”

Jack ambled over to the table.  He was game.

“Lent is a spiritual term.  It is spelled Lent.  The clothing version of the word is spelled lint.

“In cowboy terms, it’s like getting ready for the roundup.  You round up the newborn calves, cull out the deadwood, brand those that need branding, and you are ready for the spring.  In a Christian sense, ready for Easter.”  The old pastor was smiling now.

“Well it seems like Easter takes some getting’ ready for.  How long is this Lent time?”

“Well, how long do you think it takes to get ready?”

“I’d say a day or two oughta do.”

“Well, Lent is 40 days.  It rained for 40 days and nights to float Noah’s Ark, and  Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness before he got started on his roundup of souls.”

Forty days.  He thought a minute, then said, “And what do you do in all that gettin’ ready time?”

“Well, to put it plainly, you walk past all the saloons, brothels and other buildings and realize that the church is the most important building in town.  By the time you get to Easter, you realize that God has removed the deadwood and grown you so that you know Him better.”

Fast forward to the present day, whenever you read these words.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, 40 days before Easter.  No matter who you are or where you live, if you don’t know that faith is the most important thing in your life and that church is the number one place to be each week, you have some growing to do.

God will refresh you and give you purpose.  He will give you green pastures and still waters that any herd of cattle would be proud to camp by.

All that you are worrying about, he can handle.  You just have to trust him.  Whether you are driving, rustling, or slaughtering cattle, God can take you to the place you need to go, and it is much better than where you are now.

In the season of Lent, let God prepare you by giving up the bad things and putting new and wonderful adventures of faith in your corral.  

Life is a little like a cattle drive, to be sure.  You have a starting point in the wilderness.  You are heading to market sooner or later.

For Christians, the market, the end result, is heaven.  

But between here and there is a lot of roping, dust and danger.  

Ride into Lent and Easter with more faith than ever!