Tim held up his cell phone and slowly panned from horse to horse, capturing video of the restfulness of the pack. It was the morning of their final day and the spring breeze whispered in his ear. That afternoon these horses’ hooves would make contact with the sandy shores of Emerald Isle, North Carolina, having reached their destination.
Freedom lay on her side in total relaxation stretched out across a patch of the open, grassy field of seemingly endless acreage next to the Octagon House. Tim let the tears flow freely as he gazed at the only horse that had made the journey from coast to coast.
Freedom. From sea to shining sea.
The weight of glory transfixed him as he noticed God so profoundly in the smallest detail of his horse’s name. He wordlessly gave thanks over and over for choosing him for this. For letting him be a part of something so spectacular, so sacred.
Lynn stepped out onto the front porch, steaming coffee cup in hand, and sat down in a rocking chair, watching Tim. She scanned the tree line a hundred feet out in front of her, still captivated by the unexpected extravagance of the providence of such a location. The thought of reaching the coast sent a thrill of excitement all through her, quickly followed by a deep ache of sadness at the journey’s end.
“The mayor just called me,” Tim updated, ambling over to the bottom of the steps. “He wants to get some pictures for the newspaper. He also offered to send a police escort for us over the bridge and onto the beach.”
She gave him a hesitant look.
“I know,” he agreed. “I don’t love it either.”
“I hate escorts,” Lynn muttered in a sigh, rolling her eyes. “They nearly always end up being a much bigger hindrance than a help.”
“It’s the last day of the trip so it might be more helpful this time. After I hung up with the mayor, Fox News called. They asked for the address of our destination so they could have a news team waiting there to run a story when we arrive.”
Over the next hour, Tim received three more phone calls from two other local news channels and the local newspaper. By 9am they were saddled and ready for take off. Four miles from the coast, they quickly reached the police escort waiting for them at the halfway point—two miles from the shoreline. Two police cars in front and two behind. The flashes of red and blue quickly slowed traffic in both directions.
A swell of emotions slowly escalated as the minutes ticked by. The excitement and sadness grew stronger in tandem, pulling at their hearts in all directions. With every few cars they passed, someone hung out of a window to snap a photo or take a video. Waves of emotion rolled in as they crested the hill of the final bridge. Tim’s eyes landed on the ocean stretched out in front of him and the tears rolled down his face like rivers in the midst of Lynn’s joyous laughter.
Riding up to the edge of the beach, a crowd had formed to welcome them–the sea of faces representing so many of their pivotal, impacting checkpoints on their journey. The sight overwhelmed them both to near sobs.
A few hundred feet away, Tim received a phone call. Replacing it in his pocket after a moment he turned back to Lynn.
“The news media went to the wrong place,” he said, following up with a burst of laughter.
“What? Where did they go?”
“They went down by the pier. Like, eight miles from here apparently. I gave them the same address as I gave everyone else down there right now.” He motioned with his hand at the grand reception with a marveled smile.
“It’s because it’s not about a show,” she responded with a grin.
He looked back at her and swallowed the new lump in his throat. The majesty of God’s infinite precision and ways of protecting His work never ceased to render Tim to an emotional bawl bag.
A loud roar of cheers and applause erupted as the first horse’s hooves touched the sand. The pack of horses soon reached the edge of the water and Tim and Lynn entered the tide, crossing over next to one another for a kiss. The cheering increased.
Removing their hats, they waved at the crowd and pumped their arms, rejoicing in the overwhelming fullness of the moment. Three years, nine months, and eighteen days. From West to East, coast to coast, they had actually done it. What a ride.
The couple rode down the beach a hundred yards and circled back, fully relishing the ending to their major feat. The water billowed over the horse’s feet and each one grunted in defiance against it. Tim giggled at their annoyance.
They doubled back to greet their friends and family and the receiving line of hugs seemed to never end. The only news media to catch the arrival—the local newspaper reporter—caught up with Tim to do a simple report. They chuckled at the thrill on his beaming face, overjoyed to be the only one on site.
After an hour of mingling and celebrating together, Tim and Lynn invited everyone to the Octagon House for pizza. They loaded Freedom, Faith, and Bobby in a trailer to be taken back to Shelby, North Carolina while they headed back to continue their celebration with one another. The other two remaining horses were sold and taken home by new owners.
The following day the two of them spent walking the beach in contemplation and awe, processing the conglomeration of their thoughts and emotions in the presence of God. For the last three years, nine months, and eighteen days they had been horsemen. Traveling via horseback was their lifestyle. The glimpse of the new season ahead of them, while exciting, also contained an awareness of loss. The loss of something they couldn’t quite put their finger on just yet.
The next day Tim and Lynn loaded their new truck and set off to Shelby where they would pick up their ministry’s new Kiefer-built horse trailer with full living quarters. Once they had made their selection, a generous donation was immediately given to cover the remainder of the cost—nearly $25,000 from a small-town church in Seiling, Oklahoma.
As they nestled in to their new transport, Tim smiled.
“What?” she giggled. “Why are you smiling?”
“I’m just excited. We aren’t going to stop what we’ve been doing,” he replied, turning the ignition. They looked at one another in the midst of the truck’s soft rumble. “The mode of transportation is all that changes.”