On October 2, 2014 I left on a journey across the United States. On April 13, 2015 I came home.
I slept on more couches than I can count and never knew where my next meal would come from. I submitted myself to the unknown of each day where the only mode of survival is to breathe trust like oxygen.
I saw more than a book can describe and I heard more than I could retain to relay.
I left to write a book. But all the while, God was writing me.
Nothing could have prepared me for the uncomfortable etching of His pen stroke into the smooth fibers of my clean, white papered life.
The totality of the Disciples of Jesus Horsemen ministry cannot be captured and delivered in a series of episodes. It cannot be contained upon the printed pages of a published book. It can’t even be contained within Tim and Lynn Tuggle. The stories you have read over these weeks have been greater than the sum of their parts.
One of my main roles during my six months with the Tuggles was to bridge the gap between pulpit and pew in every church where they spoke. Oftentimes I would share at the end of their message, pleading with a crowd of people to see this couple as human. They are not divine. They carry the light, but they are not that light.
And so it is with you. Please do not finish these stories and click out of this page and merely bask in that nice feeling we get at the end of a neat story. Please. Please don’t reduce this couple’s journey to a movie plot or a mere book on a shelf.
I beg of you.
We do this and we don’t even realize it. We are a media-saturated culture, constantly looking for another fix. Looking for someone else’s life to glorify, some other grand story to get lost in.
And in the case of this particular story, it is far from finished. There are many, many stories that are left untold. Many loose ends left untied. These stories represented a single season in the life of this couple. Their story is told as a provocation. A challenge. A story to inspire you, the reader, to see yourself as the protagonist. To see yourself as the one in the saddle–grappling with an addiction, yet witnessing heaven’s glory at every turn. It is more than entertainment. While these stories are thrilling and enrapturing, they firstly serve to demonstrate the limits of your own potential with the Lord. To show you that there are none.
Tim Tuggle is just like you. A man of many talents and many weaknesses. A man with a prison record–a convicted felon. Susceptible to relapse. And as we have read here, his skeletons continued to haunt him all throughout his horseback journey.
When we come to Christ, we aren’t automatically sinless. For this reason alone, we must purge the lie that we have to be of a particular spiritual status in order to receive such great callings. We’ve heard it a thousand times… but how many of us actually believe that?
The crux of it all is this: if after reading these stories you are not utterly convinced that you could receive a spectacular calling of this magnitude on this earth in this lifetime, just the way you are right this moment…. then you have misread and mishandled these stories.
The journey of the Tuggles shows us all that we are human. And that our humanity does not stop the tremendous power of God. It cannot. He will not be overpowered or overthrown. His plans and purposes cannot be thwarted. And who are you to say that your little, ole normal self shouldn’t be a part of those magnificent plans?
They may leave you in awe, but do not finish these stories feeling cozy and gratified. Selling everything and trekking cross country on horseback is anything but cozy and the gratification comes only from in the saddle when those hooves hit the sand. Not from the other side of this screen we’re all on seven and a half years later.
Tim and Lynn are real people that walk the earth today. Real people that have undergone real tragedy in the last year. And the same God that healed a horse’s leg is the same God present in their current brokenness, well-acquainted with even your own shattered places.
His power has not become idle now. He is longing to do new things. New journeys. New stories. New encounters. And who next? Is it you?
I leave you now with an exhortation from the Apostle Paul to his pupil, Timothy, copied down by Tim Tuggle in his journal. May we all surrender to the prophecies of the Holy Spirit concerning each of our unique lives, fighting the good fight of staying caught in the Spirit’s grasp.
“This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, so that by them you may fight the good fight, keeping your faith and having a good conscience; for some have rejected their moral compass and have made a shipwreck of their faith.” 1 Timothy 1:18-19
Let the new chapter begin.