Growing up on a ranch in southern Utah taught me a lot about working with animals and how dangerous they can be. We ran a herd of Hereford cows, including several bulls. I truly enjoyed working the cattle from the back of a horse and generally living a ranch life.
My family was active in the Church, and when we were living on the ranch, we always made the 30-mile trip on a gravel road to town for Sunday meetings. My parents taught me to pray, and throughout my life prayer has helped me through some difficult circumstances.
One day I learned to respond to the promptings of the Spirit quickly, and I believe it saved my life. At least it kept me from serious injury.
I was 14, and I was working not far away from the ranch house one summer day. I finished my work and was headed back through the corral that was enclosed by a very solid pole fence made of juniper posts and poles. Inside the corral was a herd of about 30 range cows, including our prime Hereford bull, Charlie, who weighed 2,000 pounds or more. My dad liked to have what he called “ton bulls,” and that certainly described Charlie.
I was walking along the pole fence, and Charlie was in my way, so I smacked him on his hip with my hand, and he scampered out of the way. I continued on past Charlie a few feet, with my back to him, when I heard what sounded like cows scuffling. I had heard that scuffling sound often and would have thought nothing of it, but something else went through my mind.
Quicker than I could even think about it, I knew I had to leap for my life. I lunged for the top pole of the fence, grabbed it, and yanked myself headfirst over onto the rocks and weeds on the other side. As I was about halfway across I had time to wonder if I had overreacted. I briefly even felt a bit embarrassed. Upon landing, I immediately looked back through the bottom poles to see what had happened, and there was Charlie’s massive head and horns, his nose about six inches from mine, staring at me through the fence with those empty, black eyes. It came to me forcefully that if I had questioned that instantaneous prompting for even the briefest moment, Charlie would have crushed me against the fence.
I learned two things from that experience. First was to never be on foot around a range herd. They don’t know you’re the boss unless you’re on a horse. Second, listen to the promptings of the Spirit without question—without hesitation. Satan is the one who tells you that you are overreacting. Living worthily (keeping the commandments, saying daily prayers, attending church, studying the scriptures) helped qualify me for spiritual gifts, especially a lightning-fast prompting to leap for my life.
I have not yet finished thanking my Heavenly Father for that blessing even though it’s been more than 50 years.
Illustration by Gregg Newbold