U.S. Cavalry pushed across the Staked Plains on a punitive expedition against Comanches. On picket duty one night a trooper secured himself to his mount with a lariat that he made fast to his body. He remarked that his horse couldn’t stray if securely tied. The precaution cost his life. A buffalo herd thundered towards the troopers that night. The spooked horse ran away, dragging the hapless trooper to his death.
Sent back to Astor in New York with dispatches from Astoria, Oregon, John Reed stuffed them in a tin case he soldered and strapped to his shoulder. The sight of the box attracted the attention of Indians lurking on the fringes of the travelers. Considering it “great medicine” by being so carefully guarded, they grew obsessed with its importance.
They attacked the sleepers at night, cut it loose from Reed, slicing his head in five places when he resisted. The very precaution taken to protect the box nearly cost Reed his life and did cost the important news for Astor. (Apology to readers. These are true stories, but I have no present access to the sources.)
These examples of excessive preparation in earthly causes condemn our careless attention to discipleship. When have we ever been so dependent on God that we over-pray? Or so generous in giving that we over-pay our tithes? Or so determined to gain his wisdom that we over-read God’s Word? Or so concerned about souls that we over-witness to the lost?
As Jesus said in his parable of duty, Luke 17:1-10, “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” Duty itself summons our best, and beyond. Love of God never reaches a saturation point where we can do no more.
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