Two little girls:

One, a nine year old child named Taylor and the other, a two year old filly we like to call Pink.

Both are stepping into a most interesting part of life. Watching isn’t good enough. Being guided every step of the way doesn’t cut it. They know how. It’s time for them to know when.


Though Taylor took four strides to Morgan’s (her grandfather whom she calls ‘Papa’) one, she was right there next to him soaking it all in every time she had a chance to spend time at the ranch. Time with Papa = Time with cattle and more importantly to her, time with horses.

Why this? How do you do that? What happened to him? How come she does that? Her thirst for knowledge quenched over the last couple of years eventually turns into confidence, but then an interesting transformation takes place.

Overconfidence will lead to pride, and we all know plenty of bible verses that warn of the fall that follows. However, there is one verse that encourages pride:

Galatians 6:4
Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.

And so Taylor must step from behind Papa. She must distinguish between knowing how to shut the cut-gate and knowing when to shut the cut-gate. And she did a damn fine job for her first time only missing one cut. The crew was so proud.

She must learn the difference between knowing how to ride through cattle and knowing when to ride through cattle. J.M. only had to drive after her honking the horn once. 😉

She has learned how to execute so many actions around the ranch she loves so dearly. And so it was time to test her actions.


She’s only two. Her strides are short and her attention span’s shorter. She learns so quickly and has amazing focus.

Pink is one of those colts that you show something to, ask her to do it and she does it. You move to the next thing and get the same response. So easy to train, she becomes difficult to get off of due to the shear enjoyment of the progress. Then, an interesting thing happens.

Pink gets bored. And boredom is the salvation of all that is mediocre. Too much comfort in a routine leads to a loss of focus. No focus leads to dull zombie-like days of irritability.

Proverbs 19:15
Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger.

So idleness leads to starvation!?!?!

I absolutely love the Bible. There is no other way this could have been said any better. If boredom leads us to forget to eat (something we all love to do), what else are we forgetting?

Pink knows how to spin. Now she must learn when to spin. She knows how to stop. Pink must now learn when to stop. She knows her leads and her speed transitions. We have to focus on when in order to keep things fresh and ensure that her current advancement does not lead to idle mediocrity.


Pink needs to start learning consecutive, planned maneuvers.
Taylor needed to go work cows on her own.

They’re patterns that rely heavily upon knowing when.

How old is your faith? Is it a 2-yr old filly? A 9-yr old girl? Sometimes I feel like my faith is thrashing around on the delivery table and doesn’t even know it’s here yet. Regardless of the maturity of our particular spiritual lives, one thing can be counted on… there is room for improvement.

Encouraging though is that most of us know how to pray. We know how to go to church. I certainly know how to help someone. I’m sure you know how to share your time, your talents or your treasure.

A maturing faith, though, knows when – when to pray, when to help, when to give…

Taylor learned the pattern behind the machine that is working cattle. She was humbled at times knowing that there is so much more to actually working cattle than just knowing how to work cattle.

Pink is learning the pattern behind becoming a good reining horse. She’s learning that it’s much harder to stop at that cone right there than it is to just lope around and stop when it’s comfortable. Knowing when is not easy… but it’s definitely not boring.

So if you’re feeling a little proud in your faith, it might be time to step out there and test your actions. Go actually do some of the things you think you know how to do.

Or, maybe you’re not proud, but just bored. A new pattern goes a long way to fend off the sloth that haunts the daily routine.

Knowing how is definitely the first step. Knowing when is the way to spiritual growth. And don’t worry about not knowing. Hell, I never know… But He does.


4 thoughts on “Patterns

  1. I truly love this analogy. I smiled the entire time I read this. Thank you for teaching your faith lessons using a child, which we have all been, and the horse, one of God’s most fabulous creations.

  2. Thank you James O. For your faith and your willingness to share it with us. God knows no boundaries when it comes to the ways he reveals himself and his teachings to all of us. When we aren’t so full of ourselves and are humbled enough to realize some of his greatest lessons can be learned from the youngest among us, human or animal, we are filled with his spirit.

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