Danielle, of Danni as she had gone by the last two years, made her way up the majestic Rocky Mountains of Alberta. This was it. The big one. The biggest rodeo Danni had ever entered in: the Calgary Stampede. Her diesel Cummins whined from the load of her two horse slanted trailer, housing her best friend, a bay quarter horse named Michelob.
Becky had been riding horses since before she could walk or talk, but only in the last three years had she started the exciting sport of barrel racing. After the first time, she had been hooked. The speed, adrenaline and exhilaration were as addictive to her as any chemical ever known to man.
Not only did she thrive on the excitement of the sport, but the lifestyle held great allure as well. She traveled alone with Michelob and her old truck. It made her feel completely independent; requiring her to rely solely on her own abilities. After a history of pain, abandonment and failed relationships, spending time out on the road offered a healing balm to her soul that she desperately needed.
Sure, it did require that she miss going to her old church on Sundays, but she doubted that anyone really even missed her. As one of over 2000 members of her large foursquare church, she didnít feel that her absence would make much of a difference. In fact in the three years she had been absent, not even a single member had ever called to see why she had not been there.
Danni had not turned her back on God, but she had become one of those people whom a decade ago she had mocked callously. The type of person who turns their back on fellowship and declares that their worship is performed in observing the creation that is undeniably Godís. There was no landscape to better enforce this feeling than the raw nature of the Canadian Rockies.
After all, she had good reason to feel disillusioned. She had stubbornly survived a marriage of mental and physical abuse. She had always believed that it was Godís will to persevere through that trial. But then when Carl, her poor excuse of a husband, left her, she was caught completely off guard. Not only did she feel she was not even good enough for her drunk of a husband, but she must have completely misinterpreted Godís will. Nothing made sense anymore. Nothing that is, except riding and rodeo.
She knew she had miscalculated Godís will about her marriage, but surely this was part of his plan. Never had she felt so free and so fulfilled. She could eat, breathe and sleep horses. Michelob would never hurt or abandon her. She couldnít count the times she had buried her face in his beautiful black mane and wept until her tears ran dry. Surely God had sent Michelob to her to ease her suffering.
Danni suddenly appreciated that smoke was pouring out from under the hood of her old Dodge. The temperature gauge was maxed out and she knew this meant trouble. She had worried all along that these formidable mountains might prove too much for her old truck.
She pulled over, turned off the engine and began to sob. ďWhy? Why me? What else can go wrong? Donít you know God how important this rodeo is to me?Ē
Then Danni slumped forward in her seat, emotionally drained and bitterly disappointed. She had already been running late and by the time she got help for her old jalopy she would be too late to enter this climactic event.
It was at that moment, when she was finally out of words, too tired to fight, that she very clearly heard a word from God that changed her life forever.
Impressed into her wounded heart and tired mind were these words, ďDannielle, donít you know how much I love you? You donít have to get it right every time., but you do have to trust me. You are right, that Michelob is a gift to you, but you have been clutching him like an idol. I want you to enjoy your horse, but the moment you let him become more important to you than I am, there will be consequences. I know you are brokenhearted. Let me heal your heart. Through my strength you can do all that I have created you to do.Ē From that day forward on the road, it was Dannielle, Michelob and God, not necessarily in that order.
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