Buckskin Brady, The Cowboy Evangelist Pt. 4
Brady lived to have many exciting ventures in his life which provided him opportunities to share Jesus. The following is one such adventure.
Jack Phillips, his old camp partner from the Texas Panhandle, who loved to entertain by telling stories, was quite a talker and didn’t give Brady much time to do any talking – until one day when they rode out of the Badlands in sight of the river ford. The river was high and swift. Not knowing how their broncs would swim since neither of them had ever taken the river under saddle, their hearts beat a forward march in answer to the roaring challenge that met their ears. Not to be deterred, they made their plan. However, Jack’s horse jumped and broke away, plunging into the river, arriving on the other shore. All Brady and Jack could do was stand and watch the horse run away. Having only one horse now, they crossed the churning, wicked river with Jack holding on to the tail of Brady’s horse. Reaching the other side, Jack forgot to let go of the tail immediately; the horse spun around, and Jack, being flung off, was carried down the river. Brady jumped off his horse to run along the bank and grab Jack’s collar just before being swept over the Falls and to drag him upon land (Jack was in about two feet of water, near the shore, but in his fear, didn’t realize it).
After Jack recovered from the shock of it all, Brady asked him how he felt when he was in the water. He said “that that was one of the times he thought a prayer’d come in mighty handy but didn’t seem to be able to skeer one up in time”, and asked Brady to help him out. So kneeling in the sand, Brady thanked God that by sparing Jack’s life He had given him another chance to get salvation. With both horses gone, they finished their trip to the home ranch on foot. Jack soon left the outfit and Brady never saw him again.
Brady commented that it might be well for us to take a lesson from this adventure. “We’ve been placed here in this old world on business, and we’re on our way to the home ranch across the river where we’ll have to report our trip. This old world is full of all sorts of hot, dry badlands, and we’ve got a long, hard trail ahead of us to reach the ford. The old Jordan is wide and high, and its rapids are full of rocks. We will never be permitted to camp on this side of its banks. If, through carelessness our horse escapes, neither horses’ tails nor comrades can save us from being dashed over the rapids, and down amongst those little red boats, which are nothing but churned foam. Don’t wait ‘till you get there before you try to skeer up a prayer, but begin now. ‘Lord, teach us to pray.’ ”
Impressions are wrought indelibly. With some, a mere suggestion will often turn our thoughts back o’er the flight of years to flow again as freshly as ever through some old deserted channel, recalling a past experience with an accuracy and vividness of detail that is as startling in its effect as a flood. For instance, a dog may bark at Jack in the dark, and instantly his mind will revert to a time when he lost one boot-top and a part of his trousers in an hasty effort to climb a tree; and he will recall the weight and energy to an ounce of that faithful old dog that stood guard at Deacon Thompson’s apple orchard that night years ago, when the katydid wept and the stars grew dim; and he’ll feel just as much as ever like climbing a tree.
So it was with Brady. The neighing of a horse; the buzzing of a June bug; or the lively little mosquito tuning his fife to the notes of “Annie Laurie,” as he whets his bill on the door-post and spreads his wings for an evening serenade; often recalling the good old times of the range in some thrilling adventure of pleasant experiences in the days when he hazed the weary broncho along some badland trail; or chased the long-horned range cow through the sage bush; eating his grub by the campfire and sleeping under the open canopy of heaven.
For Brady, those were good old days! He knew not the value of their goodness. They taught him the true balance between God and nature, and proportioned all things to explain His mysteries by placing their highest values within his easy reach, leaving him alone with solitude to learn of God. And to that, he attributed much that he could achieve by way of talent, method, or training. The illustration of God’s will through the field of nature is a privilege we may all enjoy through the favor of God.
It was amongst the rocks of Judea’s desolate wilderness that God led His Son to prepare Him, through the word of truth, to face and defeat Satan in his three great temptations which embody the sins of the world. The fact of Satan’s choice of this place for attacking Christ seems to prove that there is nothing in nature more suggestive of the idea of the tempter’s effort to damn the brightest and purest of God’s children, to warp and twist poor helpless human beings into shapeless deformity of soul and body, than a piece of rough, rocky country, broken by barren hills and dismal canyons. The rougher and more desolate the country, the more striking the illustration. If you can conceive of a region that has the power to burden your mind with gloom and despondency because of its barrenness, you are nearing a place which will help you to realize the awfulness of sin. Yet, God can give the victory even here.
Brady had a heart to teach people about Jesus and salvation. He wrote about John the Baptist, the great preacher of the wilderness, who turned all of Jerusalem, Judea and the region of Jordan to repentance and had only two texts, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight,” or, in other words, if you’ve been leading a crooked life, come to God and get a religion that’ll take all the kinks out of your trail, and hit a bee-line for the kingdom on a fresh horse.
Brady’s version of this text reads: Any man can follow a crooked trail, but it takes a good man to follow a straight one, because nowadays, there are so many things in the way of a straight-trail-religion that a man can’t ride very far in any direction without running against some obstruction or another. It takes more sand to go straight through than it does to dodge around. The way to heaven is as straight as the day of judgment, and the only way we shall ever reach it is to go straight through everything.
The man who refuses to straighten up on every line, and have all the kinks taken out of his trail, will never have nerve enough to ride into Canaan by the old Jordan ford. He’ll be like the children of Israel under Moses; the story of the ten spires will run a whizzer on him before he gets a taste of the milk and honey, and he will turn back to die among the old sin-cursed trails of the wilderness. No one will ever reach heaven till he gets a religion that will destroy his appetite for the flesh-pots of Egypt, that will face down the ten spires, and give him sand enough to tackle the old Jordan ford even in high water.
When Brady was a boy he rode for an outfit whose home ranch was located at the head of a big divide. Whenever one of the boys came in sight of the ranch, they could always tell whether he was bound for home or not, by the way he rode. If he left the old trail and went prowling around through the badlands, they knew that he was after stock or something, for if he were coming home, he would make a bee-line for the ranch staying hard by the old trail that heads all the canyons, badland washouts and alkali bogs.
When a feller comes in sight you can generally tell whether he is bound for heaven or not by the way he rides. If he is away out on the badlands of sin, prowling around amongst the barren rocks and canyons, you know that he is looking for stock or something, for if he were bound for heaven he would hit a bee-line for the kingdom, staying hard by the good old trail.
Perhaps some of you fellers out in the sin-cursed badlands wouldn’t understand how to get back to the good old trail, even if you were told. Maybe some of you have been riding all your lives and never yet saw a straight trail outside of a railroad grade.
A number of years ago when two of the boys were riding for strays in the Belle Fourche country, they ran across the Killpatrick crew, who were pushing the B. & M. Railroad west through the wilds of Wyoming.
To be continued . . .