I Don’t Understand

It was a clear September morning.  The waves splashed against the sand of the beach of the Southern California Coast.  We relaxed and listened.  Me, almost asleep on a blanket, Josie with her nose in a book, and the kids splashing in the sea water.  It was a perfect vacation, and one that had been a long time in coming.

The cell phone rang.

Josie picks it up and I get to hear one side of a conversation.  Most of the time I’m pretty good at understanding from hearing one side, but this time was different.

“What?” she says.  “You’re kidding me!!”

She was very alarmed and I was stirring rapidly from my dozing.

“Is everything alright?” I mouth the words to her hoping that she can lip read me and talk at the same time. 

“Get the vet out as soon as you can,” she says and she slowly shakes her head in response to my question while holding up one finger to stave off my questioning looks.

The conversation continued for a little bit and then she hung up the phone.  She looked at me with a stunned expression. “Silver is hurt, and we may have to put her down.” She says

Silver is a mustang.  She was captured as a 2 year old and adopted immediately for her color.  She is a blue roan appaloosa and I had never seen color like that.  When we got her she was eight and had not been touched since her adoption date 6 years prior.  Needless to say, she was a handful.

Josie said that it was our ranch hand, Ben, on the phone.  He had been wakened from a much-deserved sleep-in to his own phone.  One of our neighbor ladies on her way to work had seen a horse in our pasture struggling to move.  He had gone to check and found Silver with a huge gash in her left hip.   By huge, I mean like nothing I have ever heard of.  The gash measured 3 feet long and almost 12 inches deep. Completely severing the entire glut muscle and only stopping at the bone of her pelvis. 

What could have caused an incredible injury like that?  Our first thought was that we had missed something awful when we had cleaned up our hundred year old property.  But I could think of no thing that could have caused such an injury. 

The call later confirmed what we feared.  The vet had looked at her and said that the humane thing to do would be to put her down.  He said that she may heal to walk on three legs, but would never regain function of her fourth and would probably be in extreme pain for the remainder of her life.  We consented and it was over.  We received pictures via e-mail later that day and were again stunned. 

The plan had been to go home immediately.  But we had driven to California, so we were looking at an eighteen-hour one-way trip home.  The finances weren’t there to be able to fly one of us home, and the more we thought about it, the more we understood that there was nothing at this moment we could do for Silver.  Our children are young and had been graciously sharing their parents with our new ministry, and needed to be reminded that they were more important to us than all the responsibilities at home. So we chose to allow Ben to take care of the situation and continue our vacation.

We kept in contact with Ben and he relayed to us that the Sheriff had been called and that they had all searched the pasture and corrals to no avail.   There was nothing found to cause such an injury.

The cell phone rang.

Josie picks it up and I get to try and interpret a one sided conversation again.

“No way!!”

“Not again!”

“Not Sunny!”

This time the message was pretty clear from one side.  It had happened again.  It had been 2 days since Silver’s injury, and it had happened again; a wound in the same style to a different horse, Sunny. 

Sunny is one of the best horses I have ever worked with.  She is a Missouri Fox Trotter and one of the most loving horses I have ever known.  She has taught countless children, including my own, to ride.

The vet came.  Ben called.  Sunny’s injury was the same, though not as severe.  She would be stitched and may be able to heal with some help.

We packed up and headed for home. 

Sunny’s injury healed.  It has been 7 months since she was hurt.   Miraculously, she is fine today.  The cause of the injuries was never found and the consensus was that it was human caused.  The sheriff and the vet agreed.  Someone did this to our horses.

The resulting investigation turned up nil.  We became hopeless for a solution.  We prayed.

Time passed…… 

I took a job to help pay the bills planting trees with one of the local ranchers.

My cell phone rang.

I picked up the phone to hear Josie’s voice on the other end.  She was in town at a doctor’s appointment.

“The Electric meter man just called me,” she said.  “He says we have a horse in the corral with a cut.  Do you want to run home and check it out?”  

“Sure”

There was no urgency.  My mind went to the countless times that we have had someone call us or comment on a horse cut that turns out to be nothing but the result of horse play in the herd.  No big deal.

I pulled in the driveway and he was standing right next to the front gate of the corral.

My heart jumped to my throat.

It had happened again.

Jake.  A 20-year-old mustang gelding with a wonderful history.  This gentle soul had been locked in.  As a matter of fact, all the horses had been locked in the corral for over a week to let the new spring grass get established in the pasture.  It was April.  Nothing had happened since September.  Here we were again.

Oh, God what is going on? 

This was slightly different.  The wound was about 18 inches long and about 5 inches deep just behind the left shoulder.

I called Josie.  She was on her way home and arrived in just a few minutes. 

She took the horse to the vet while I conducted my own search of the corral. Again, nothing turned up.

The sheriff was called again.  Nothing resulted from the ensuing investigation.  The consensus on the cause: human.

The local news was called, came out and did a story on the problem. 

It has now been 1 year since Jake was attacked. We have no answers, but plenty of questions.  Who could, or would have done this?  Why would they do such a thing?  Is someone angry with us and taking it out on our horses?  Are we in danger?  Are our children in danger? 

…..No answers.

More questions.  God, why would You allow this to happen?  What is Your purpose for this?  Do you not care about these animals that we love?  Are You going to protect us?  What about our children, are they safe?

…….No answers.

We have been reminded over and over through our walk with God that He and only He is in complete control and we belong to Him.  Our children belong to Him.  Our horses belong to Him.  We know this.  That has become our comfort.  Every once in a while a situation arises that makes me ask questions with no answers.  And it is in these times that God says in that still, small voice, “Do you trust Me?  Even if you don’t know why.  Even if you don’t understand.  Do you trust Me?  Remember that I gave you your home.  I gave you your horses.  I gave you your children.  They are only on loan to you.”

I have the decision to make each time. Will I trust Him?  If I don’t know the way.  Will I trust Him?

This time I have made my decision.  I will trust Him.  After all, if I understand, if I know the way, then it’s not truly trusting.  Is it?  I can only prove my faith when it is tested.  And it cannot be tested in the light where I can see everything, but only through the darkness can I truly trust.

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Published in: on July 13, 2008 at 1:04 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. I remember reading the news story on this, but after reading your story I felt like I was a bystander listening and seeing what you heard and saw. It’s things like this that can take you down the road of bitterness and anger or up the road to greater faith in the One True God who will protect and care for His children. You took the high road – the one not easily traveled. This is a great testimony – thanks for sharing!


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