To all the horses in my life – I just want you to know I forgive you.
There’s a wee bit of Hans Zimmer doing a horsey theme at the end of this just to show there’s no hard feelings.
To those of your noble breed who over the years have enjoyed the privilege of at least trying to carry me upon your backs – thank you for those brave attempts.
What wonderful creatures horses are! I’ve always been full of admiration for them. I’m not afraid around them, quite the opposite. And on numerous occasions throughout my life I have ascended the saddle with high hopes of galloping off across the western plain with the best of them.
At first all has appeared to be well. The horses picked for pony-trekking are usually fairly patient, docile creatures. I’ve never met a mean one yet. And as long as we just plod along nice and slow there’s no problem. They might occasionally pause for a nibble at the hedgerows but I don’t mind.
However sooner or later someone is sure to mention the word ‘trot’ and that’s where things start to unravel. My attempts to look like John Wayne are suddenly interrupted. Never mind ‘canter’ or ‘gallop’, just ‘trot’, and off we go, bumping painfully up the track.
When I go up, the horses seem to go down, when I come down, the horses are coming the other way. Ouch! The instructors glide past smoothly on their own mounts, encouraging us poor beginners to try and ‘get into rhythm’ but it’s no use. I’ve yet to meet the horse whose rhythm matches mine!
Now I haven’t lost hope entirely. Maybe somewhere out there that special horse is waiting, one with a taste for soul music that will recognize when it has a guitarist in the saddle and sync its trotting style accordingly, so that together we could make a graceful pair… oh well, I can always dream!
Perhaps Old Testament prophet Amos had a horse in mind when he asked, ‘Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?’ (Amos 3 v 3)
Or consider Solomon’s wise words in Ecclesiastes 4 v 9 : ‘Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work.’
There’s no doubt or coincidence about it. Teamwork is a good thing. More than one, walking and working together harmoniously in the same direction – that’s bound to be fruitful. And spiritual fruit is what the Apostle Paul is speaking about in Galatians 5 v 16 – 26.
Paul is concerned that those entrusted to his care and guidance in the church should grow in their faith and become fruitful in God’s service. We can’t do this if we’re still addicted to our old way of going, bound by our old ‘sinful nature’ and some of the jealous, spiteful ways of the world. What leads to success and effectiveness in Christian living, he says, is to treat that old way as ‘crucified’ – dead and buried, and to submit to be led by the Spirit of Christ in all kinds of beautiful qualities like ‘ love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control’.
And I’m momentarily thinking of one or two of those ‘equine encounters’ again as I read, ‘Let us keep in step with the Spirit.’
Keeping in step with Jesus in our prayers and life-choices every day. Together forming a graceful bond, as we ‘ride’ towards glory!
Eugene Peterson puts it well in his paraphrase of Matthew 11 v 28 – 30:
Jesus says, ‘Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace… Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.’