On The Trail with Doug Clark
Doug Clark will receive the coveted Ben Johnson Award at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum’s annual Rodeo Historical Society’s Hall of Fame Gala […]
“I don’t think I would be able to handle your situation like you do.” This is a statement I’ve heard a lot since September, 2018. Although, this is meant to be compliment, to me it raises questions and wonders on why people think this. What do I do that makes people think this? Why does everyone think so down on themselves? What do I do that makes me be able to handle this situation the way I do?
Being made children of God and being blessed to live in the United States we all have free choices every moment that we are awake. We choose what to wear, whether to go to work or not, where to live, what vehicle to buy, and my favorite choice, how many cups of coffee to drink in the morning before doing chores. For me, I choose a lot of coffee before starting the day. With these free choices we also get to choose what to think, what to believe, and how much effort we want to put in.
I grew up wrestling from a young age. From the time I was five until I graduated high school, I endured long seasons of grueling practices, tough competitions, tournaments, and weight cutting. I would spend the off seasons at training camps to better my skills. I traveled all over the country to regionals, nationals, and every big tournament there was. I would spend time before practice working on drills and stay after practice to get more conditioning. I learned fast, the harder you worked the more reward you received from it. All the blood, sweat, and tears shed from my wrestling career carried over into my rodeo career.
I began riding bareback horses going into my freshman year of high school. Through high school and college I competed in all three rough stock events. To compete in the three most physically demanding sports in the world I knew I would have to train harder than everyone else. I trained in the gym before school. Then I would come home after school and ride my spur board and drop barrel for hours. I went to every practice I could and got on as many animals as they would run under me. Sometimes, between the three events I would get on upwards of fifteen animals in one practice.
I knew that to go to the National Finals Rodeo someday and be a World Champion I was going to have to be the best. They don’t just hand out gold buckles and I knew that. I put in the time when I was young and it catapulted me into my professional career. By the time I was eighteen and graduated high school I was ready. I was ready to compete against the big dogs. I had the skills to compete but I learned fast that I needed more skills then I had. I had to learn how to travel smart. How to enter rodeos correctly to utilize time and money. I had to learn how to battle through slumps. How to keep a positive mind when everything seemed to be going wrong. But, from wrestling I had learned at an early age how to train like a champion, and how to fight like a warrior.
After the paralyzing wreck in 2018, I decided to fight this battle the same way. Train like a champion and fight like a warrior!
How does a warrior fight? By being prepared before he goes to battle. You see, I grew up in a spiritual family, I accepted Christ and was baptized at nine years old. I was steered in the right direction from a young age. Although, I took some back roads growing up, and veered off course, I always ventured back to my faith that started young. I learned at a young age to trust God’s plan. How to search the Word. And, how to seek the father in prayer for my needs and wants with thanksgiving. I learned that when we battle with Christ on our sides nothing can stop us!
How do we battle with Christ? Just like any warrior does. We put on our armor and face the battle with courage. Our armor can be found in Ephesians. “Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:14-17
As warriors we must put on God’s armor. The belt of truth is the centerpiece of the armor, it holds everything together. The belt of truth is Jesus. We must first and foremost make Jesus the absolute unequivocal Lord of our lives.
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
Putting on God’s armor starts by giving our lives to Jesus daily. Reading our Bibles, spending time alone in prayer, humbly laying down ourselves and worshipping him are all ways we can give our lives to Jesus. Turn off the TV. Get off Facebook and Instagram. Spend time with Jesus laying out our worries, cares, needs and wants at his feet.
Next, is the body armor of God’s righteousness. This is the breast plate which is similar to our rodeo vests or a bullet proof vest. The vest protects against internal damage from bulls feet when you get stepped on, or horses flipping in the chutes. Or, like a bullet proof vest that protects our military and police force from bullets entering the chest cavity. The breastplate of righteousness is what protects our hearts. “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23 NLT. We have to be sure that our hearts are protected and filled with Jesus. By daily pouring God’s word into our hearts we can have confidence that we are being led in the right direction and apply it to our lives so that we steer away from sin.
The next piece of armor is the shoes of peace. The shoes of peace come from the Good News. The Good news is that God sent his only son to die for us on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins and a promise of eternity with him in heaven if we accept him as our savior (John 3:16). The shoes of peace keep us moving forward no matter what our circumstances are because we know we aren’t staying here. No matter how bad it seems nothing can keep us down when we know we are going to heaven. The shoes of peace keep us moving, and it’s hard for the enemy to hit a moving target. The shoes keep us prepared to do God’s work wherever we are and whatever situation we are in. We can always be thankful for something and we should all be prepared to share the good news with others at anytime.
The shield of faith comes next. This is what stops the flaming arrows of the enemy. Our faith is so important. When the enemy attacks physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually, our shield is what stops his attacks. Our shield is what keeps us in the game. Our belief in God’s promises are what give us hope for a better future. Our belief in Jesus as our savior is what gives us a hope for eternal life in heaven. Our belief in God’s word reminds us that he can do the impossible, we can face anything through him who gives us strength, and that no matter what our current circumstances are, he alone can give us a breakthrough. “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 NLT
The helmet of salvation is like our bull riding helmets, or a helmet of any kind. It is what protects our brains from head to head collision with a bull, or wreck in any other action sport. The helmet of salvation is what guards our minds. Just like it is important to guard our hearts it is also important to take control and guard our minds and our thoughts. If the enemy can’t crack us with a physical blow he often tries a more subtle approach and it can often be heard as a voice in our heads. “You’re not good enough. You can’t. God won’t heal you.” These are all voices we may hear. It is important to take control of what goes in our minds. What we dwell upon. And what we think about.
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8 NLT. What we think and believe of a situation often times is what becomes. If you think you can’t, you won’t. If you think you can you will. Engrave God’s promises and words in your mind to often reflect on and let his word guide your thoughts.
Lastly, is the sword of the spirit. The rest of the armor has been defensive and offers protection. The sword of the spirit is how we fight back. This is our weapon.This is how we attack. This is like the spurs on our boots as we prepare to nod our heads and challenge the beast that we sit upon. The sword of the spirit is the Word of God. “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Hebrews 4:12 NLT.
When we read God’s word, bury it in our hearts, and apply it to our lives it changes everything. John 1:1 tells us that in the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. So, since the word of God is Jesus when we use the word against the enemy we allow Jesus to fight our battles for us. We don’t have to take them on ourselves. We can stand by God and let him do the fighting for us. “What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” Romans 8:31 NLT.
In this time of chaos and turmoil. Whatever battle you face whether financial, physical, or mental. Whenever you feel like you can’t keep going, when life is hard or unfair. Whenever you feel like there is no way, put on your armor and fight back with the promises from the word of God. Don’t give up and keep fighting. Be courageous. Be a WARRIOR!
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