The Sleeveless Blue Vest with the Alaskan Symbol


The plan was in place, and as the three of us exited the farmyard on horseback, I was ready to spring the surprise.

"Where are we going?" Asked my boys. "Left or right?"

"Let's go left," I said, smiling to myself over the grins that would soon appear on their faces. I slapped my side to ensure that the money I had slipped into the pocket of my red vest was still there . . .

Wait a minute! I wasn't wearing my red vest anymore!

What?

Then I remembered: The sun had been so warm as I had tacked up my horse that I had pulled off the vest and hung it on the saddle rack beside the barn door! "Oh, no!" I cried out before I could stop myself.

"What?" Demanded my boys.

I bit my lip. It would ruin my little surprise, but then, without money there would BE no surprise!

I sighed. "I thought we could ride down to the convenience store up on Northam and have ice cream," I admitted.

Sure enough, excitement mounted on the faces of my boys, but it would soon be gone . . .

"Only problem is, I left the money back at the barn."

"No problem!" They agreed instantaneously. "We'll ride back and get it!"

I bunched my eyebrows, considering the idea. But no, it was too late. We had to be home by 7, and one of the horses in our group was on a "walk only" program due to lameness earlier in the season. We'd barely make it there and back by 7 if we left now, and the barn was on the other side of the farm.

"There won't be time," I responded slowly, still considering the options.

Of course, I could ride back to the barn while the others walked on. My horse wasn't the lame one But no. He wasn't a leader. He would go crazy if he found himself alone Then my eyes lit onto the big palomino in our group. He was one of the leaders in the barn, he wasn't lame, he loved to run, and a "walk only" would do little to wear down his excessive energy. Turning to my son on the palomino, I said, "Why don't you run on back to the barn and get the money while we go on? We're just going to walk anyway, so you won't have any problems catching up!"

The plan was met with agreement on all sides, and after specifically telling him that the money was in the pocket of my red vest, my other son and I proceeded on down the road.

It was all simple enough, or so it seemed, but it was a good 20 minutes later before we finally caught sight of the big palomino rounding the corner and running down the road to catch up. And when my son finally pulled up behind my big bay, there was no smile on his face. "Mom," he said, "your wallet was in the car and the car was locked!"

"But the money wasn't in my wallet," I responded. "It was in the pocket of my red vest, hanging on the saddle rack outside the barn door!"

"No, mom," he insisted. "You didn't have your red vest, you had your blue one, and there wasn't any money in the pocket."

I scrunched up my eyes. "No," I corrected, gently, "I had my red vest with the Victoria symbol. I also had my blue jacket with the Yellowstone symbol, but it was on the chest in the tack room. I didn't have my blue vest with me today."

"No," he insisted. "There wasn't anything hanging outside the barn, and yes, you DID have your blue vest! It was sleeveless, and there was an Alaska symbol on it!" Then he added, "I know! I checked it out!"

The discussion went on for quite a few more minutes, but he wouldn't back down. It was a blue vest ("without sleeves"!), and there was "Alaska" on the front!

Needless to say, we didn't go to the Variety Store, and when we got back to the barn, there was my red vest, the one with Victoria on the front, hanging from the saddle rack on the front of the barn. It was even visible from the road, and most importantly, the money was still in the pocket. I walked into the barn and picked up my blue jacket off the chest. Sure enough, it was NOT my sleeveless vest, it did NOT have Alaska on the front, and there was NO money in the pocket. I held it up in front of my son, and pushed the "Yellowstone" symbol under his nose. "Is THIS the blue SLEEVELESS vest with ALASKA on the front?" I asked with a grin as I waved a sleeve in his face.

It was a case of simple miscommunication, one precipitated by my son's lack of attentiveness to my instructions. The entire thing could have been prevented, given a tiny bit more focus. But as a result, we missed out on our ice cream.

Isn't it so often a similar result when we communicate with God? We become so focused on our own needs and desires that we pay little attention to the voice of our Lord and Saviour. When we do manage to hear Him speak, our own plans often distort His message, and as a result, we, and others, miss out on the beautiful unfolding of His will. This is bad enough, but to make it worse, when things fall apart, we usually insist that we heard correctly, that we followed His instruction to a "T", and we even go so far as to question God as to why He didn't come through with His side of the bargain. Meanwhile, the "red vest" is still "hanging on the front of the barn", while the "sleeveless vest with 'Alaska' on the front" is actually a "blue jacket with a Yellowstone symbol"!

Friends, let's make an effort to be more attentive to the voice of God. Let's resolve each day to ask Him to help us hear His voice clearly and to accurately carry out His instruction. Only then will the end result be what God had in mind. Only then will our actions bring about the joy He intended!

". . . We have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him." (1 John 3:21-23 NIV)

Lyn Chaffart

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