“. . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” – Hebrews 12:1
I have never personally had the pleasure of meeting Boots O’Neal, but I have seen him a few times, especially when I was a youngster growing up out in Northwest Texas. Back then he was dating a girl, who he eventually married, whose family at the time lived around the corner from us. That’s about as close as I ever got to meeting him. Almost ninety-years-old now, Boots is one of the most renowned and respected, and certainly one of the oldest active cowboys in Texas – perhaps anywhere. Boots still resides in the bunkhouse of the famed 6666 ranch in Guthrie, Texas where every morning he gets up, pulls on his boots, and saddles his horse for a long day’s work “punching” cattle, after which he retreats to the bunkhouse, and as he is quoted as saying in an article published last year in Texas Monthly magazine, “I’ll go to sleep lookin’ forward to doing it again tomorrow.” (ref. https://www.texasmonthly.com/being-texan/legend-of-boots-oneal/)
“If people see their best years behind them, they’re probably not going to finish very well, because you can’t finish well when you’re going backwards,” the late Bob Buford wrote in his book Finishing Well: What People Who REALLY Live Do Differently! Well, one of the things Boots O’Neal has done differently is that he has refused – quite literally – to hang up his spurs, besides the fact that he loves what he does and finds purpose in it. And that is the formula for “finishing well” for which Boots O’Neal is a role model.
The aging process seems to be teaching me the same lesson, that if you want to finish well, every morning you better get up, suit up, and be armed with a purpose. Otherwise, if you quit, you’re done! Few spend seventy-five years in the same physically demanding profession as Boots O’Neal who has been cowboying since he was fifteen. In fact, many of us go through three or four careers during our lifetimes. Benjamin Franklin, it is said, spent his first forty-two years becoming successful, and his last forty-two years giving back – always with a purpose.
And we all have a purpose, a race that has been marked out for us, but as Rick Warren pointed out in his best-selling book from several years back, The Purpose Driven Life, that purpose is never about ourselves. So, “let us run with perseverance the race that is marked out for us,” like people who REALLY live do, who also seem to finish well.