I’ll never forget the first time I rode a horse.
Growing up in the city meant that horses just weren’t part of my life. I remember seeing horses as a kid at parades. At the county fair in the horse barns. Or occasionally at big football game when the police brought in horses for crowd control.
And I wasn’t one of those city slickers who dreamed of the open range wrangling up some cows.
I was 19 years old the first time I rode a horse. And I rode a horse because I had to for a college class.
It was an intimidating experience. This animal was 10 times bigger than me. It was taller than me. And it was infinitely stronger than me. Somehow I was supposed to sit on it and “control” it with a tiny piece of leather and some kicks?
The horse I rode could have cared less that I existed. It was an old camp trail horse who had seen a million riders over a million years and barely even acknowledged my existence. It was one of those horses that you could tell used to be big, strong, and attractive in its youth but now its best description would be, “tired.”
Before I put my foot in the stirrups I tried to get to know him and pat him on the head. He just took a leak and looked away.
I wish I could describe the experience as enjoyable. It wasn’t. It was uncomfortable and bumpy and I felt completely stupid on the horse. It didn’t seem to matter what I “told” the horse to do as it just walked the trail. When it got behind it trotted up ahead to catch up with its friends. Whenever it wanted to– it stopped to eat grass. And when it was done with me it used trees and branches to try to knock me off its back.
To make matter worse everyone else seemed to be having a great time. All I felt like was kicked in the gonads 200 times. I tried to make the best of it but it just wasn’t fun and I couldn’t wait for it to be over.
Standing in the barn after the trail ride I asked the person who ran the trail rides why I hated it so much. She just kind of laughed. “Probably because you fought the horse the whole time. And probably because you were scared. It would have been fun if you’d just held on tight and relaxed.”
That’s a lot like my relationship with God
When it’s unpleasant, when I’m scared, when I’m intimidated, and when I’m trying to be in control… walking with God is like getting kicked in the gonads 200 times.
Often times God just wants us to hold onto the reigns real tight and relax.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.