When a cowboy tries to break (tame) a horse, chances are he’ll be bucked (thrown off), especially if he’s a greenhorn ranch hand. The cowboy walks out to the horse pen, where the young, wild stallion is corralled, standing restlessly as he’s tied to the fencepost. The cowboy carries a saddle at his side, which he throws across the fence onto the horse’s back. He then unties the horse, grabs the reins, and slings himself up into the saddle.
The wild horse rears up on his hind legs, kicks his feet in the air, and jumps up and down as hard as he can to throw the buckaroo off. He hates this person on his back!
Eventually, the horse succeeds and the cowboy loses his grip. The horse kicks up with his back legs and flings the cowboy into the air. The cowboy crashes to the ground and eats dirt. The horse settles down and trots anxiously away from his would-be master.
The cowboy feels the ache of the impact. His arms are bruised and his knees are scraped. But he chooses not to wallow in the dust. With his eyes still on the stallion, he stands up, dusts himself off, and walks over to do it again.
The scene repeats and the horse bucks his rider again. And again, the rider gets up and mounts the horse a third time.
This time, the cowboy is determined to master the beast. He knows what to expect. He also knows that the beast is more worn than when he started.
He holds on for what seems like minutes, but the whole thing is over in seconds. The beast eventually tires—gives up—and becomes docile. The cowboy strokes the horse’s neck and smiles. “Good boy,” he says, then starts to teach him to obey commands.
We all have our broncing bucks to tame, and they will throw us some time or another. We don’t always have a choice about that. But we do have the choice to get back in the saddle and go at it again—better than last time.
Throughout my life, I’ve sat in many metaphorical saddles and been bucked many times. I think my parents taught me the value in perseverance, of dusting myself off and getting back in the saddle. It’s neither easy nor painless. But, in my experience, it is always worth it.
The saddle I am getting back into is writing. Writing is something that I have always enjoyed doing, yet have not made the time for in the last several months. Part of this is because I have not had a well-defined writing mission, so I didn’t have a lot of writing motivation. To get back in the saddle, I am creating a mission and plan of what I want to write and, most importantly, why. Then, I just need to get in the saddle and ride the bronc!
Perhaps writing comes more naturally to me than to other people, but it’s still hard. Getting the right words down in the right order is no easy business. Getting the message behind the words across to the reader is tough. I enjoy learning how to write better—clearer, cleverer, more concise—but it really comes down to jumping on the bronc and holding on.
I believe there is a “natural law” about getting what you want with persistence. Jesus alludes to this in Matthew 7:7 when he tells his audience, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” He is not saying to just ask, seek, knock once, but to persist in asking, seeking, knocking.
I’m no theologian, but I believe God places desires on our hearts that He wants us to pursue, and in the process of pursuing, we are going to fall down. We are going to get thrown off the horse. The key is to keep getting back on our feet, relentlessly, and getting back in the saddle. And I believe that God honors our dogged persistence by eventually granting us what we want.
But we can’t give up just because we didn’t tame the horse as quickly as we wanted to. If we want it bad enough, we have to keep at it—the horse isn’t going to tame itself, and hopefully we don’t get lazy and let someone else tame the horse so we lose the opportunity!
So, let this be an encouragement to you to get back in whatever saddle you’ve got. Get back on whatever bronc you’re trying to tame. Learn from how you got thrown off last time, but most importantly, be persistent!
The story ends with the cowboy taming the horse, who becomes a faithful companion for life. Together, they ride off into the sunset and have many great adventures together. Neither one can imagine life without the other.
I believe that the challenges we face are the same. Someday, our biggest challenge becomes our greatest asset. The rewards of overcoming our obstacles far outweigh the blood, sweat, and tears we shed in the process. But the process is necessary. We must persist. We must persevere.
We must get back in the saddle.