Thursday, August 05, 2010


Stephen Bly

An old time cowboy’s typical outfit included muddy boots, brown duckins for trousers and an off-white cotton shirt that turned gray with age. His colorful bandanna got very grimy on the trail. 

But there was one other essential piece of clothing: his bright or mustard yellow oilskin rain slicker. He called it his “fish” because of the trademark Fish brand on the inside, so named in the 1800s because they originally had a fishy smell. The slicker is split for mounted use and large enough to cover the entire saddle, therefore ideal protection for inclement weather. It didn’t keep him warm, but he stayed dry.

Many a cowboy wore out his fish just being tied to the back of his saddle. But he wouldn’t think of going to work without it, no matter the condition. 

To get caught in a downpour without your fish humiliated more than getting bucked off a kid horse. And that fish came in mighty handy on more days than rainy ones. If he rode a forked saddle on a horse that wanted to buck, the slicker jammed between him and the saddle horn provided a bucking roll to help wedge him in. This helped train the horse to not be so jumpy at new sights. And being waterproof, the fish covered his pack, his bedroll, his dinner, his other shirt, his spare Colt .44, or anything else he didn’t want to get soaked in a storm or crossing a river. 

The old fish…or slicker…could cover a wide variety of valuables. A cowboy without one was either dirt poor…or dumb.

Reminds me of the admonition: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins,” (1 Peter 4:8).

To cover the sins of those you love doesn’t mean you imply that their actions were right or smart or that they’ll escape the consequences. But the ‘love cover’ allows you to refuse to let another’s wrongdoings destroy your friendship. 

You can roll up that kind of love and take it with you wherever you go, ‘cause you never know when someone close will all of a sudden fail you.
With God’s help, you’re not too poor to love this way. Nor too dumb to know its good spiritual smarts.

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