A Horse Is A Horse… Of Course, Of Course
One of the loves of my life is horseback riding; and I have to admit that I have been guilty of being a bit of a snob about it. We always had quarter horses, and I never gave too much credit to other breeds. I especially did not care for Arabians. I thought they were too flighty and seemed a bit “sissy-la-la” to me. When I was in my 30s, some friends of mine and I got into a type of endurance riding. By this time I was ministering at TC and no longer had my own horse, so, I rode my friends’ horses. We were going on one of the first rides of the year and I got “stuck” on an Arabian. We had to climb some pretty steep hills and go over rather hazardous trails. Being on the Arabian concerned me because I didn’t think it had what it took. I was used to the size and the muscular nature of my quarter horses. The horse I usually rode was over 16 hands, was incredible in the mountains and I knew he could go the distance. And I was stuck on this little, fine boned Arabian – he was maybe a little over 14 hands and sure did not have the bulk of the horses I was used to riding.
Well, I got on the horse; was about to face the first hill. Five other riders had gone first… two of them did not make it… their horses just could not carry them up the steep, sandy/rocky slope. One horse even tumbled over backward. My friend kicked her horse; leaned into it and barely made it up the hill. My turn. All I could think of was that I was this big person on this rather small horse. I kicked the horse; gave him his head; leaned into it and we were off. That little Arabian took that hill like it was nothing… he wasn’t even breathing hard when we got to the top. We made it to every check point with ease. Why? On the outside the horse, though beautiful, did not look like it would have the endurance needed, but it did. Why?
The Arabian horses were first bred and cared for by Bedouins – in the harshest of environments – in what they called the Great Desert. The Bedouins kept the blood lines pure and the best of these horses were bred for endurance. This even changed the physical structure of the Arabian. An Arabian horse has larger nostrils than other horses; huge lung capacity and his gate is much longer and smoother than many other horses. Arabians are incredible animals. After my precious quarter horse has long sense played out… the Arabian would still be going. For centuries they have been the choice horse for many kings and have long since been used as war horses due to their ability to endure. You might be saying, that’s nice… but what does that have to do with us?
I firmly believe that we are to learn from all of life. From these horses of kings, we can learn something that we will need if we are to finish this Christian race we have started. We need to learn to endure. It is all real nice to say glory hallelujah when things are going well, but do we have the strength to endure when we go through the tough times? We will all go through seasons and some of those seasons can be tough. Are we going to have the strength to stand if God calls us to a tough season? Proverbs 24:10 says, If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to faint… I don’t want to run out of steam. I want to stand… I want to endure… There is something I want to stress to you: if you are going through a rough patch… feeling like you are truly “hard pressed” on every side… you are not alone. From the beginning, Christians have had to learn to endure. Christianity was born in a context of hostility, and persecution. Think of what it must have been like after the death of their Lord – after a number of His disciples were martyred. When you read the New Testament, you will see that the endurance of Christians in the face of persecution and temptation underlies most the New Testament. How did they endure? I don’t have all the answers, but I think I can offer a few clues to their success:
- They were sold out. They did not waste energy on “weights” that would easily beset them. When it came to the Christian race, they were “in it to win it”!
- They had built up their spiritual muscles. Every trial has the opportunity to build us up or tear us down. If we choose to allow the Holy Spirit to strengthen us; teach us; and lead us through these tough times we will be built up by the power of the Lord. We will see that we “can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.”
- They ate their Christian Wheaties! I have a feeling that they spent time feasting on the rich fellowship with the body of Christ; and was daily strengthened by prayer. I am also sure they hung on every promise in scripture. Can you imagine how it must have strengthened the early church when they read Paul’s letters? It would be like getting a double dose of vitamin B12.
- Just like with the little Arabian I rode, for them, quitting wasn’t an option. To me, endurance isn’t endurance if we ever quit! I don’t care if we go 99% of the way, if we quit, we still did not endure. Just like I had to stay in the saddle to finish the race I was in, the only way we will be able to endure to the end and finish this race is to stay firmly connected to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
There are days we want to say, “enough is enough”. There are times we want to pull the covers up over our heads and say “no way”, I just don’t want to face this. It is during these times our time with the Lord can become so refreshing; so healing; so revealing. Even the Arabian horses in the desert had to find an oasis with water to sustain them. May we allow the Holy Spirit to be that oasis for us.