Don’t be a goat roper kind of friend

Published 6:20 am Wednesday, November 15, 2023

By Les Ferguson, Jr.

I’ve been blessed with good friends. I’m thankful that a sizable number of high school buddies are still a part of my life. If nothing else, Facebook has been good for keeping old friends connected. 

Last week I spent a few days with a group of fellow preachers whose lives have been intertwined for a long, long time. From childhood to college to jobs to weddings and funerals, we’ve been there with and for each other. Those connections themselves fail to address the many other ways we are linked together. 

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Over the years, other important people have come into my life from a wide variety of circumstances. US Navy friends, church friends, and still others who have been integral parts of my life for various reasons and circumstances. 

One of those friends I didn’t go to high school or college with. We didn’t become friends until our very late teens/ very early twenties. We spent a lot of time together riding in trucks, working on old cars, and otherwise doing everything we could think of to get the attention of the fairer sex. 

At any rate, it’s often said that “the name has been changed to protect the innocent.” Don Hale is most emphatically not innocent. I’m sure he’ll read this and laugh out loud. I hope he does it in church and gets fussed at by his wife. Better yet, I hope the sweet old ladies glare at him. 

Don eventually joined the Marine Corps while I joined the Navy. I slept in a rack during boot camp while he marched around the barracks carrying his. 

Who made the best decision? That’s probably a story for another day. 

With Don’s influence in those early years, I changed my entire outward appearance. I went from goofball nerd to cowboy nerd wearing boots and a cowboy hat. I don’t know what we thought we were doing at that point, but according to Don, we should never be seen as “goat ropers.” 

I’m not sure I ever really knew what a goat roper was or looked like. But I trusted Don to make sure no one could ever use such an ugly moniker toward us.  With apologies to those of you who espouse a goat-roper style, I’m glad to know Don and I have both held to the no-goat-roper ethos.

What’s the point of all this? As I reminisce about friends, I’m reminded of an old Michael W. Smith song that says, “Friends are friends forever if the Lord’s the Lord of them.”

May you be blessed with forever friends even if they are goat ropers.  

“Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.” (Proverbs 18:24 The Message)