Freedom, the Cowboy Code, and the Light of the World

By Jeep Collins

 I don’t know when it happened or even where on the ranch it was, but I was alone, away from the watchful eyes of my parents.  I was free to roam wherever I chose.  To get there my leash was lengthened in stages; close to the house at first.  There was plenty to do down at the creek, we had lots of water;  water teaming with minnows, with tadpoles that I caught and watched them grow legs in a jar.  There were snakes; we had plenty of snakes; mostly the poisonous kind so I was watched closely, and taught to not put my hands in places I could not see, and never walk at night without a light.  I remember following my dad in the dark, he had a light and I had his legs as my guide and I stayed close behind him watching the shadows of his legs going back and forth. I imagined snakes on each side of us, waiting to bite us if we strayed off the path.

Snakes were the biggest danger on the ranch, but they were not enough for me so I imagined other things out there that could kill a feller.  I wanted there to be indians, pirates, bears, mountain lions and fierce bobcats.  As long as I was with my dad I knew nothing could harm me.  I loved walking with my dad in the night right through the danger all around us.  At night I would lay in bed with my dad and after a wrestling match he would tell me stories. Stories of the brave men of the sea, or the pioneers, trappers, and cowboys.  My favorite “Golden Books,” were “Brave Cowboy Bill”, and “The Little Trapper.” And then there was the “45” record of “Pecos Bill.”  My dad taught me about bravery, and toughness of character, but he always tempered it with compassion. The characters in his stories were mighty tough, but they were not bullies, and they were without prejudice.


Walking in darkness, and lack of communication causes us to overuse our imagination. When spouses, siblings, friends, or even enemies don't talk to each other we can only imagine what they are thinking.

Imagineers, I like that word, it conjures up the idea that our thoughts begin to engineer something that may or may not actually be there; there is a good side though; it's how new ideas become reality.  There are a lot of imagineers about God; if we don't read His book then we really don't know Him, but that doesn't keep some from forming an opinion about Him - there are some interesting ones.

As long as we stay in the darkness we remain ignorant and don't understand the light. More than anything God wants a relationship with us; to communicate back and forth with Him. He wants us to be dependent on Him, like a little boy following the shadows of his father's legs in the dark. This conflicts with human nature, we want to be self reliant.  No one likes that more than me, I love my independence, but I have come to know my limitations; I can do a lot for myself, but I can only do things that count for eternity through Him. 

The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it...The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.    John 1