Reflections – September 2017
What youngster hasn’t longed for a horse sometime in his/her youth? I know I did. Living in a small city, opportunities for riding were few, but my love for these magnificent animals never waned. However, it wasn’t until college that I had the opportunity to ride with any consistency. Our university had a stable full of what were called “school horses,” as well as polo ponies, and a few hunters and jumpers. Big, strong, graceful, beautiful, each with its unique temperament and personality! The learning curve was rapid and eventually I had the thrill of learning small jumps in the arena before going out on the trail. Needless to say the skill of my jumper was far superior to my riding ability. Yet it was exhilarating.
Prior to college years, my grandpa and I occasionally went to a local racetrack to watch the training of the trotters and pacers, but my fascination was really peaked by steeplechase events. Watching a horse and rider negotiate a complicated course of jumps and water hazards would actually seem to draw me into the event which is both breathtaking and nerve-racking. How does an animal that large, with long gangly legs, gather himself up to scale such heights without knocking down a rail or two? His stride and lead must always be precise for the height and distance before him; and the rider must anticipate both the obstacle and the gait of his horse moment by moment, making quick adjustments to avoid a stumble or lose time. Now each summer I look forward to the opportunity to watch a portion of the Lake Placid horse show where the training course for the jumpers is right alongside the road. I’m mesmerized every time.
In many ways our lives have certain parallels to horse jumping and steeplechase in particular. Our course is filled with hurdles and obstacles, some anticipated, others totally unpredictable. How well prepared are we? Do we seek out opportunities to grow and mature in our faith? These are our foundation stones. Do we seek Him for guidance and direction, or do we rely on common sense and the ways of the world? His wisdom far exceeds ours. (Isa. 55:8; 1 Cor. 2:16) Is our life truly hidden in Him or are we one who occasionally “stops by” for a quick chat? Do we really live out of the truth that we are a child of God and Christ’s friend; that we have been chosen by God to bear fruit? (Jn. 1:12; 15:15,16) When life gets tough, when curve balls come from unexpected places, do we collapse, cave in, or dust ourselves off and re-group? (2 Cor. 4:8-11) When frightening or devastating news pays us a visit, do we think all is lost or do we grieve, knowing God still has plans and a purpose for us? (Jer 29:11)
It is inevitable; we will all encounter hurdles and obstacles – some personal, other corporate. We will all fall off our horses from time to time and sustain a certain amount of injuries. Difficult and challenging times are coming; in fact have already begun. How we handle them determines how successful and effective our ministry will be in the Kingdom of God. Like a fig tree we have been planted, fertilized, and pruned; will be bear fruit? We have been bought with a price and with the expectation of being active participants in bringing the Kingdom of heaven to earth until Jesus returns. We are part of God’s army and we are already being challenged, but God’s authority is invincible and He will not desert us. The bigger question is will we desert Him?
Our assignments may change a bit but we will not be retired as long as we still have breath. For every challenge the world throws at us, God has an answer and a strategy. He will not be defeated and therefore neither should we expect to be less than winners as we are ambassadors for Him. As the rider urges his horse on in competition, so we must be committed to strengthen and encourage one another. Preparation combined with consistent reinforcement will keep us strong. And when the battle becomes intense we will need to remember that “We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our mortal flesh.” (2 Cor. 4:8-10) So be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Rom. 12:2) It’s time for the reign of God! Let’s reign together.