Crowfoot's Mistake

Apart from one funny little misjudgment in life, I'll have to say that I admire Chief Crowfoot more than just about any other Native American leader. And that's saying a lot, actually: quite a few of those tribal chiefs were pretty easy to admire. You can probably detect, in Crowfoot's photo, a certain 'nobleness' about him that was recognized and respected by Blackfoot and white-man alike. 

In fact, the Northwest Mounties loved this guy and fiercely defended him and his people whenever the need arose. The Canadian Government grew so dependent upon Crow-foot's gifts of diplomacy that they hardly made a move in the Canadian-West without seeking his consent. 

There were missionaries on the Canadian prairies and trappers in their forest outposts who were extremely thankful for Mr. Crowfoot, I can tell you that. More than once he and his men came to their rescue and saved them from certain massacre by vicious bands of Cree. Crowfoot's actual name was Isapo-muxika. He was born into the Blood Tribe of the Blackfoot Confederacy around 1830. I've never read anything about how he got his name, but if it was an injury or a handicap, it didn't affect his rise to glory. 

He was a distinguished warrior, even as a teenager; and at a very early age, he was recognized as an effective leader. By the time Crowfoot was thirty-nine years old, he was one of the three head chiefs of the Blackfoot Nation. He loved his people; led them wisely; fought courageously to ward off an onslaught of alcoholism among his clans; and worked hard to achieve peaceful solutions to the relentless pressures and heart-breaking conflicts that kept coming from the east with every new wave of white settlers.

Like most of the good men of Native America, history didn't leave Crowfoot 'happily-ever-after'. He spent his final days on a bleak reservation, his people sadly decimated by war, disease, and alcohol. 

I mentioned a 'funny misjudgment' of his; yes, that happened after the Canadian Pacific Railroad successfully signed a treaty with Crowfoot, allowing the ingress into Black-foot territory of hundreds of miles of track. Railroad executives and government officials were so thrilled to have his approval that they gave Chief Crowfoot a lifetime pass to ride the rails absolutely free. For the rest of his life, he was free to go wherever, whenever he liked. And do you know where Crowfoot went with that pass? 

Absolutely nowhere! He put the pass in a leather pouch, hung it around his neck, and wore it as an ornament for the rest of his life! Never once got on a train!

Now, be careful here! Don't go laughing too heartily at poor old Crowfoot just yet. You too have been given a 'lifetime pass'—did you know?—and what an awesome gift of God it is! And if you've been using yours to the fullest advantage, well, then go ahead and smile! But the truth of it is that, in far too many lives, and far too many households, well-meaning people—even Christians, believe it or not!-—keep making Crowfoot's mistake.

Somewhere along the line—and I'm sure our church-culture is partly to blame—the impression has been given that the Christian Faith is an 'ornamental' thing; with a cross to hang around the neck, a bumper-sticker for the car, and a Bible nicely gather-ing dust on a living room table.

But that's not at all what Christ has come to give us! When Jesus Christ came into the world, serious business was at hand: hearts were broken, the way was lost and eternal destinies were hanging in the balance! The last thing on earth Christ came to do was spruce up our world with religious 'decor'. He would never have died on a Cross for a purpose like that.

Jesus always spoke quite seriously of the Kingdom He was bringing. "Strive to enter in..." he sternly warned Lk 13:24, knowing that many would not take His Kingdom seriously. He once pronounced a great blessing on the one who hears His words "and puts them into practice." Lk 6: 47 Translation? "Take this 'lifetime pass', get on board, and go!" Go where God has always wanted you to go; where hope and purpose and deep fulfillment can be found. Where lives are changed and peace and joy return. Go! and leave the dreary 'reservations' behind! 

You know, I sometimes wonder if old Crowfoot shouldn't be excused for his mistake. After all, he may never have understood what a 'lifetime pass' could do! Or maybe he just couldn't see how a belching, squealing locomotive was any better than his stallion among the pines on a lovely mountain trail!  ("I hear ya, Crow!") And don't forget that the people who gave him this nice 'gift' were also the ones who were taking his land. 

But such is not the case with the awesome gift of God! It comes with clear directions urging us to use it every day; it promises things that will never find equal among the poor devices of man, and it is given by a God who loves us deeply; who gives us everything we need, and who yearns to give us more! 


No, I don't think we have much excuse.


Sunday! You comin'?                              RAS

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