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Hello everyone! What are some of your favorite things to do on Sabbath? I like to watch nature shows, listen to music, and read! :)

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Unexpected Rodeo

by Michelle Knowles

A camper was in danger, and it was all my fault.

I stood frozen in horror, watching the worst event ever slowly unfold, and I had caused it all. The horse stretched out his muscular neck, inching closer to the post, upon which was secured a thin strand of wire. Around the post his lead rope was looped in a loosely tied, quick-release knot. His bare back bore a small female rider, a junior camper, helmet securely fastened, sitting up nice and tall, looking forward to and smiling in anticipation of her upcoming ride.

I gulped and tried to take a step forward. At the same moment that my mind processed moving my foot ahead, the horse finished investigating the post in one sudden movement—his sensitive nose met the electric fence. His back went rigid, his eyes opened wide, exposing the whites, and his nostrils flared as he inhaled sharply.

He backed up to escape the electric current. Then, realizing he was tied to the post which had the demon on it, he began doing the only thing horses understand to do when faced with extreme fear—get away!

A miniature rodeo erupted in front of me. Bucking, twisting, turning, and rearing, the horse tried with all his might to get away from the post that held him captive. This wouldn’t have been much of a problem if he didn’t have a rider on his back—a rider that didn’t have a saddle to aid in her balance!

I watched helplessly as she began losing her grip on his mane. Being tossed to and fro, she slid under the massive horse’s belly and between his thrashing hooves.

My heart stopped. The next few events are in some kind of jumble in my brain. I yelled, “Get out of there!” but of course when you’re being trampled, it’s hard to discern where you are at all.

Jesus help me! was my next thought. I began feverishly praying in my mind and out loud. I couldn’t get close enough to the rearing horse to untie him and let him get away. I was powerless to do anything at all.

Suddenly the rope broke, and the horse was no longer on top of the girl. I looked at the camper lying there on the ground and found it difficult to swallow. Oh, God, please let her be all right!

There was nothing I could do until help came. I continued watching as the other wranglers checked her for injuries.

Her helmet was cracked from front to back, and she had the imprint of a hoof on the side of her face. But she was sitting up and talking. None of her bones were broken. After the doctor examined her, he found that she had suffered only a slight concussion.

I fell apart. After the surge of adrenaline, I felt drained and exhausted. How could I have let this happen? I was supposed to take care of the campers, not get them killed by panicking horses! What was I thinking when I decided to work at camp in the first place? I began blaming myself, second-guessing all my actions in the horse barn.

My director noticed my anxiety. “What happened, Michelle?” she asked, her face looking sad, mirroring mine.

At first I didn’t think I could tell her. I thought she might send me home if she knew what I’d done.

“I just don’t know. I tied up the horse . . . he touched the wire, I didn’t mean for it to happen . . .” My voice trailed off, and I sank down into a chair.

My director looked at me for a long moment, then walked over and pulled me into a long hug. All the feelings I’d been holding in suddenly burst free in a mad torrent down my face. She held me close.

“Accidents happen. It’s all right; you didn’t mean to,” she said rocking me back and forth.

“I’m so sorry—”

“You’re a really good worker, and you’re going to make mistakes. But that’s OK, everyone does.” She took one final look at me, “Are you sure you’re OK?” Then she smiled at me.

I managed to nod my head, “I’ll be OK

. . . thank you.”

She nodded and let me go. I took a deep breath and started walking.

When I went into the bathroom to wash my hands before heading to the cafeteria, I found the camper who’d been in the accident, up on the sink, trying to catch a fly. She looked over at me and smiled.

“Hi, Michelle!”

“Hey, are you OK?” I had to know for sure.

“Yeah, just trying to catch this fly. Look, he’s stuck!”

I shook my head, smiling to myself. Then she surprised me.

“I’m staying for another week, and I’m taking horsemanship again!”

“Thank you, Jesus,” was all I had to say about that. Even through the pain and trauma, He had found a way to make it all OK again.

Michelle Knowles graduated this past spring from Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee, where she earned a degree in print journalism. Now that she’s out of school, she plans on traveling, doing mission work, and writing. Her home is in Oshawa, Ontario.

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