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I learned a lot about life growing up on a desert ranch in Arizona. Most people have a romanticized understanding of cowboy life. The reality is it’s not much different than any other occupation that demands hard physical work. Granted, being fully immersed in God’s creation every day regardless of weather or circumstance is a unique experience. Every day was a new day filled with new adventures yet somehow the same… all woven together becoming life on the ranch without interruption.

We never took a family vacation. In fact, vacation was not something I was familiar with until I became corrupted by college life. Our time away from the work of ranching was really just an extension of what we did every day. It was and still is called rodeo but it is very different today. The stories I heard as a child were of local ranch hands gathering and plying their skills of roping and riding without an audience or an arena to perform in. My dad and my uncle were charter members of the original professional cowboys organization. In later years, they and their horses were on magazine covers and well known in Arizona. I mention all this because traveling to a rodeo on a weekend was a momentous occasion, a real change of life. One trip in particular is a remembrance of mine that has little to do with ranch life and a lot to do with the peace and comfort I feel in Christ.

For many years, we went to a rodeo in Payson Arizona. Ours was a desert ranch. Payson was much higher in elevation, surrounded by pine forests. The trip was a welcome respite from the extreme desert heat. In fact, the nights were chilly. We stayed at the home of my dad’s cousin, Pete and wife Laura. There was the original log cabin, a guest house and a travel trailer. One trip I stayed in the bedroom of the log cabin.

The bedroom was off the living room. The living room was small and the walls were covered with the mounted heads of all the animals Cousin Pete and wife Laura had shot. There was also a bear skin. The bedroom was small barely bigger than the bed. The mattress was stuffed with goose down from years of geese hunting. I remember vividly laying down and sinking deep into the mattress. So deep in fact that it rose up around me like billowing clouds. I didn’t have to do anything accept submit to the gentle settling of my little body into the expanse of weightless comfort. There was no need for a blanket; I was enveloped in the soft fluffy mattress that provided a peace beyond description.

The life of our community has been interrupted. There is a momentous occasion at hand, and we are experiencing a life changing event. I find myself longing for a return to the familiar and hoping for a peace that seems unlikely if not impossible.

In this moment, my prayer is that we allow ourselves to sink deep into the infiniteness of God’s comfort, to be enveloped by the peace of Jesus in the midst of the storm and rest in the knowledge that He will be with us always.

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