Clyde Parker, me, and Ben
Roots in Montana
For the past 25 years, I’ve gone back to the ranch in Montana to help my brother, Jess, move his cows to summer pasture. It’s an annual retreat to my roots where I grew up on Dad’s ranch just eight miles down the Musselshell River. The first time we moved cows, I was 14 years old and went with Dad to help Jess. I didn’t think about it at the time, but he had probably moved cows on that same route dozens of times before that outing.
I had a beautiful stallion that I used as a saddle horse. I took him with me to Montana every year and we would breed several mares. Jess raised the colts on the Montana range, even after he got too old to break horses, and the herd grew to about 40. There are two beautiful geldings in the group; one that I wanted to break and another that Ben, Jess’s son-in-law, had his eye on. We had ridden these two on last year’s trip. Ben’s horse had some inner-healing issues, but we managed to get a saddle on him one day and ride him around the corral the next day. Nobody lost any blood, but it was a real rodeo. I rode the other gelding out in the pasture several times, and he felt like he was on his way to becoming the perfect horse.
The Pull of Adventure
This year, our finances were a little tight and I thought about skipping the annual trip. I work as an engineering subcontractor and we don’t have paid vacation. On the other hand, I’d been working from home for three months because of Covid restrictions and needed to get out of the house and out of town. I checked with Ben earlier in the spring and found out neither horse had been ridden since last year. The temptation to work with the horses was too great. So, I cooked up a deal with Ben to meet at the ranch three days early to get some rides in on these two green (untrained) horses.
My plan was to get a few days of dry runs on my horse and use him to move the cows. A day like that behind cows turns a colt into a cow horse at that stage of their training. Well, I committed to the annual trek – 14 hours and 700 miles—and the die was cast. I love working with horses and this was the perfect challenge.
Thinking About Healing
We had started a new Heart Plan course on the first of June. After the first three weeks of writing purpose statements and making mind maps to organize goals, we spend three weeks on obstacles like healing. These folks involved were all healthy and entrepreneurial, but our 10 years of experience suggested that most people have fears or need some kind of healing to get to the next level of the desire God wrote in their hearts.
I listened to a podcast by Praying Medic and got a couple of his audiobooks to fill the 28 hours roundtrip of driving. (Healing in Three Easy Steps by Dave Hayes, Praying Medic.) He was praying for people on 20-minute ambulance rides and getting results, and I was struggling to do the same thing in 10 weeks! Engineers from Montana love simplicity and results.
The Cowboy Heritage
The plan was to move the cows on Saturday, so I worked Monday, drove all day Tuesday, and met Ben at the ranch that evening. We got up bright and early Wednesday morning and ate Patty’s (Ben’s wife) breakfast burritos, drank some coffee, and off to the corral we went. I offered to ride Ben’s problem horse first. It wasn’t hard to persuade him because he broke a finger getting bucked off a similar horse several years ago. Ben’s confidence was a little shaken, and his pinky was frozen in a half moon as a permanent reminder. I’m sure Patty talked to him about wisdom with half-broke horses being the better part of a cowboy’s valor.
It took 30 minutes to get the saddle on the horse, but I lunged him (circled him around me on a lead rope), bribed him with treats, and finally got on him and rode him in the corral with no incidents. Several more sessions like this one and we would have him out in the pasture moving cows. By now, Ben’s son-in-law, Dustin, and Jess’s ranch hand, JJ, showed up to watch the progress.
My horse was next. He was out of my stallion and one of my Dad’s mares named Big-Enough. When Big-Enough was born, she was a handful, and my Dad was too old to break her. He tried to get Roy, his ranch hand to ride her, but Roy wasn’t much younger than Dad, and he always said she wasn’t big enough yet; hence her name. Somehow, she did get broke, and she turned out great.
Just Like His Momma
This gelding I was about to ride reminded me of his mother. He was a beautiful horse, very quick and powerful and just the right size. We got him saddled with no problem, and I used the treats and the lunging to make friends. Then I got on. Everything was going fine, just like last year. Ben was leading him the first few steps while I rode across the corral. I stopped him with the bridle and gently pulled back on the reins to get him to back. He didn’t respond at first, so I asked Ben to give him the same cue with the halter.
That was the last thing I remember.
The Dream – This Can’t Be Real
When I woke up, I was outside the corral standing at the back of my car. The trunk was open and my saddle had been put away. As I took my chaps off, it felt like I was in a dream. I couldn’t quite remember why I was in Montana. I recognized my brother’s ranch by the beautiful rims in the valley and the yellow shop next to the corral. I wondered if I had enough money to cover the days off work. I even wondered how I could go back to work because I couldn’t remember what Chemical Engineers do. I asked what happened, and JJ and Dustin explained that the horse flipped over backward. Ben got back from turning the horse loose, and I asked if the horse landed on me.
“Yup, right on top of you.”
Dustin said Ben had been relieved when I rolled over after lying in the corral motionless for a brief moment. JJ looked into my eyes and asked me what his name was, and I passed the quiz. A few minutes more and I remembered driving out Tuesday, that it was now Wednesday, and that we were moving cows on Saturday.
Just Walk It Off
JJ offered to take me to the hospital in Harlowton. I declined. We spent the rest of the day rebuilding the corral fence and trying to “walk it off.” I had a small cut on my chin, my ribs hurt a little, and I had pulled a groin muscle with no idea of how it happened. All I knew was it would keep me from getting my right leg over a horse for another day or two.
I wondered why the accident happened. Was there a door open for a spiritual attack? The scuff mark on my temple and the cut on my chin matched the helmet of salvation. The ribs reminded me of the breastplate of righteousness. And the groin pull fit the “loins girded with truth.” I started to think God was telling me my armor was missing. The introspection started with: How could I be this vulnerable to accidents? I felt a vague sense of shame over the mystery of why it happened.
Our plan for retraining the two horses was out the window, and I thought about going home early. Instead, I limped around the rest of the week and rode a gentle mare on Saturday to move the cows. During the days before, we continued building the corral, I was demoted to coaching Ben through a few session on his horse, JJ invited me to ride in the pickup with him to check the water for the cattle several times, Jess’s wife, Nicki, asked if I would go with her to Ryegate and pray for some friends on Thursday. I limped into their house and prayed for three people. One of them came to tears as we prayed. (All three sent thankyou notes of appreciation after I got home.) Nicki threw in an extra stop to pray for her pastor after that. I gave it my best shot but was having trouble getting in and out of the car. I felt unworthy to pray for anybody.
The Drive Home
Ben and I got up early Sunday and ate our burritos. Before I drove home, I offered to help with his horse one more time, and he agreed. We got him saddled without too much trouble and Ben rode him around the corral before I left. I coached from a safe distance one last time, and my horse remained untouched.
The shame and confusion over my horse wreck plus the discomfort of my groin pull didn’t make the 14-hour drive home go any faster even though I was listening to another audiobook on healing. The Lord finally spoke to me about the missing armor and said this, “John, there is nothing wrong with your armor. If it wasn’t for my protection, you would look like roadkill right now. Things like this happen, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love you or watch over you.”
I knew it was true. A 1000-pound horse landed on top of me, and I walked away—a miracle in itself. My shame and confusion turned into thanksgiving and tears.
It’s Not About Me
The more I thought about my own experience that day on the way home, the more I realized others in our tribe and course had the same experience of being crushed by life’s events and wondering why. The book I was listening to centered on one aspect of emotional healing. I realized that the practical need is to integrate physical healing, emotional healing, and spiritual healing (deliverance or generational influences). The three areas of healing are interwoven, and the solution for one area needs to address the other two areas at the same time. Yes, we are body, soul, and spirit, but the larger truth is that each of us is one human being, a holistic person. It’s normal for a spiritual or emotional issue to have a physical symptom.
There is also a connection between our purpose and our health. People, businesses, and nations all have books of destiny, and they all need to be healed to inherit them. Purpose is what pulls us through disease, discouragement, and difficulty. God wants you healthy so you can inherit your land and fulfill your role in the Kingdom. The enemy’s purpose for sickness is to keep you on the sidelines. Our hearts need a reason to stay healthy. Purpose carries that authority. It’s a weapon that makes room for our purposeful identity!
I knew our tribe would resonate with this.
Healing for Warriors
I turned off the audiobook and started recording ideas on my phone, chapter titles, getting editing help from my friend Jim Bryson, and getting Fred Jones to help me turn this short ebook into an Amazon bestseller. We had just gone through the same process for Intentional Reformation Primer, so I knew how much work it was and what it would cost. July 17 was three weeks after the day I got home. The book and cover were uploaded, and we did enough marketing to get it to “best seller” status on a Friday. I didn’t miss a day of work and I felt really healthy – healthy enough to break horses! We also made it available in paperback. It’s short and concise, perfect for business people and busy people. The Zoom video Fred and I did is here.
Fred gave me the best seller categories and we wrote this on the back cover.
John Garfield is an international bestselling author. His new book Healing for Warriors – Connecting your Purpose and Your Health is a world-wide Amazon bestseller in the following Categories:
- Physician and Patient Healing
- Spiritual Self Help
- Self-Help Short Reads
You Have a Reason to be Healthy (Your Purpose)
Tears of thanksgiving still come easily as I retell this story. It is your story too. Jesus is our healer and protector. Father has a purpose for our lives that is written in our book, and we have a reason to be healthy. When horse wrecks happen, we naturally feel like God must have abandoned us. When we live without purpose, our Father feels like we have abandoned Him. It’s time to connect our purpose and our health. That’s how we connect the heart of sons to their Father.
Psalm 139:15-16 – My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. NIV
PS: You can join the next zoom course at www.OnlineHeartPlan.com. It will connect your heart with the purpose written in your book and heal the things that hold you back. The dream God wrote in your heart can come true – it needs too. That’s how God is building His Kingdom on earth; sons with dreams.