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Out There Ridin' Fences

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

This article is going to be an odd analogy between hardworking, loyal cowboys and people involved in ministries.

The "golden age" of cowboys and the great cattle drives only lasted about twenty years, but quickly became the stuff of many television shows, books, movies and so on. However, cowboys still exist. (While some ignorant people use the word as a pejorative, cowboys then and now were known for hard work and loyalty.) There are not many Westerns being made for television and movies any longer (except for ultra-violent and "adult" shows, it seems), but the image of the loyal cowboy that puts in long hours and does often dangerous work lives on — and cowboys still exist.

Roundup on the Cimarron, 1898, Library of Congress
A duty in farming and especially in ranching is to "ride the fences". The cowboy rides the fence perimeter to look for damage (which may mean thieves breaking it down to make off with livestock), see if an animal is caught, make repairs and so on. It is mundane work that needs to be done on a regular basis.

Chris LeDoux had a song in 1992 called "You Just Can't See Him From the Road" (sometimes called "Ridin' Fences"). I happened across it when researching another article, got an inspiration and that is where this article came from. And it's not even a Christian song.
Well you don't see him much on the big screen anymore
The kids don't ride along with Roy or Gene
And that ain't really him with all those feathers in his hat
And some Frenchman's name embroidered on his jeans
Well, I'm not too familiar with Roy Rogers or Gene Autry (maybe because I'm not into the singing cowboy image), but they were extremely popular several decades. They had an image of strong values, work ethic and fighting evil... It's too bad that those characters, as well as the ones in shows like "Bonanza" are gone. But I digress. These guys had the spotlight.
But he's still out there ridin' fences
Still makes his livin' with his rope
As long as there's a sunset, he'll keep ridin' for the brand
You just can't see him from the road
That last sentence caught my attention: You just can't see him from the road. My calling is in creation science, worldviews and encouraging Christians to uphold the authority of Scripture. I will never be another Ken Ham, Jonathan Sarfati, David Catchpoole, Tas Walker, Jason Lisle, Henry Morris or a "big name" in creation science ministries. That is not my calling (Acts 6.1-4, Ephesians 4.1). Not many of us are to be in the spotlight, but rather, to be among the many in supporting roles.

My creation science ministry gives support to other ministries (including individuals on occasion) and has its own unique impact for the sake of the Word and truth. The accountant, receptionist, ministry librarian, floor sweeper, writer, tour guide, audio-video technicians — many people are involved in making a ministry happen. Other ministries are largely unnoticed, and their impact may not be known in this life. It all adds up, however.

Back to the chorus. The last part of the next to the last sentence also has meaning: As long as there's a sunset, he'll keep ridin' for the brand. I don't get the sunset part, but "riding for the brand" means keeping your employer's best interests at heart. The "brand" term is used today where businesses want their employees to be loyal to "the brand". Here, I'm giving it the meaning of giving glory to Jesus Christ (1 Peter 4.11). After all, he is our ultimate employer (Ephesians 6.5-9).

There are other parts of the song that emphasize the hard work, generosity and character of the cowboy, but those are not my points of emphasis. 

Please pray for people involved in ministries, including the ones riding the fences. Satan doesn't like their work.

If you're discouraged because you're behind the scenes (and possibly tempted toward jealousy), know that God put you there for a reason, and we're working for the greater good. Even if we can't be seen from the road.