Summer 2011: Common Horse Sense
Author: Dan Gabbert
Publish date:

Psalm 32:9 brings back memories for me:

Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle.

When I was younger, I worked with quite a few horses that would balk (freeze in place, hunker down, or retreat) and spook (shy away) from almost everything they were not familiar with—birds, gophers, holes, ditches, creeks, work. And the idea of being caught and saddled up for service was certainly not a priority on their to do lists.

Now, it’s not all bad to be alert and sensitive to what might be dangerous. But when a horse was prone to balk or spook at the slightest disturbance, they were in most cases untrustworthy, and even downright dangerous to ride.

Thinking back, I remember something else peculiar to this type of horse. It might have just been my imagination, but when it came to feeding time, it seemed as if the balkers and spookers were the first in line, and could become real cantankerous if any other horse got in their way.

Interestingly, when mealtime rolled around, birds, gophers, holes, ditches, and creeks seemed to be no barrier to getting to the feed trough. I’m pretty sure it had something to do with where their attention was focused. What do you think?

Learning and Doing

For most of the balky, easily spooked horses that I experienced, the best cure-all for their skittish untrustworthiness was to give them a good daily workout, exposing them to as much unknown surprise as could be found in the pasture and arena.

It seemed that the more time they spent under the saddle, the less they had to balk and spook over.

Consequently, when a seemingly new obstacle was confronted, instead of spooking and running, there was a much calmer evaluation of the situation, and a quicker response to the trainer’s guiding hands and feet. I think it had something to do with them learning where to keep their attention focused—on their trainer’s hand and foot promptings, instead of on the disturbing situation. What do you think?

Now it may have just been my imagination again, but interestingly enough, after a day’s work, there also seemed to be a greater willingness to share the chow line with fellow four-footed equine.

How is it in your life?

Where are your priorities? Have you found it easy to balk and spook at seemingly insurmountable obstacles in your experience with Christ? Have the daily irritations of living become intolerable?

Excuse the expression, but have you caught yourself finagling to be first at the feed trough of getting your needs met?

Where have you been focusing your attention lately? Has it been on the disturbing situations of life, or on the solutions our loving lifeskills Trainer, Jesus Christ offers through His Word and example?

I invite you to consider what our Lord is communicating in these verses:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end (Jeremiah 29:11).

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things (Romans 8:31-32)?

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

Contemplate the insights found in Isaiah 53:3-6 on the personal experience of Christ during His earthly sojourn:

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

How did this affect His attitude? Isaiah 42:3-4 gives us a little glimpse:

A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth judgment for truth. He will not fail nor be discouraged, Till He has established justice in the earth; And the coastlands shall wait for His law (NKJV).

Desire of Ages puts it together like this:

Jesus did not contend for His rights. Often His work was made unnecessarily severe because He was willing and uncomplaining. Yet He did not fail nor become discouraged. He lived above these difficulties, as if in the light of God’s countenance. He did not retaliate when roughly used, but bore insult patiently (DA, 89).

Saddled for Service

Friends, when you make a decision to surrender yourself to Christ Jesus as your personal Savior, the Lord of your life, by the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit upon your heart, you are born into the family of God (see John 1:12-13; Galatians 4:6-7).

Christ’s Holy Spirit enters your heart to begin His work of training you in the eternal ways in which He originally designed you to function, fitting you up for your heavenly home (see Ezekiel 36:26-27; Romans 8:28-29; Philippians 2:12-13).

The Bible calls this training sanctification—the process of rebuilding your character in holiness (see 2 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7; 5:23-24; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:15-16). To give you the best possible training opportunity to become like Him, He makes you one of His fellow-workers (1 Corinthians 3:9), a minister of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-19).

In cowboy terms, the Lord saddles you up for service. If you will choose by faith to go to work with Him, within the guiding bit and reins of His Word, learning to calmly evaluate and respond to the jackrabbits of surprises, the tumbleweeds of daily difficulties, and any other obstacle to spiritual growth He leads you to deal with, a deep trust in His guiding hands will develop (see Psalm 23:4).

You will lose your balkiness and spookiness in His work, and truly mature in acquiring His tender, loving Spirit (see Ephesians 4:29-32; 2 Timothy 1:7). Regardless of circumstances, you will even be thankful to be last in the food line (see Mark 9:35; Luke 6:40; 19:10; 1Thessalonians 5:18)!

How shall we respond to such a high calling?

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

The children of God may rejoice in all things and at all times. When troubles and difficulties come, believing in the wise providence of God, you may rejoice. You need not wait for a happy flight of feeling, but by faith you may lay hold of the promises and lift up a hymn of thanksgiving to God (HP, 123).

Why can we rejoice?

Consider these hope-filled insights found in the famous Old Testament commentary,Patriarchs and Prophets:

The mighty God of Israel is our God. In Him we may trust, and if we obey His requirements He will work for us in as signal a manner as He did for His ancient people. Everyone who seeks to follow the path of duty will at times be assailed by doubt and unbelief. The way will sometimes be so barred by obstacles, apparently insurmountable, as to dishearten those who will yield to discouragement; but God is saying to such, Go forward. Do your duty at any cost. The difficulties that seem so formidable, that fill your soul with dread, will vanish as you move forward in the path of obedience, humbly trusting in God (PP, 437).

I am so thankful, dear friends, that we do not have to be like a balky horse or spooky mule, and remain hard-mouthed, lacking in understanding about the ways of our loving Lord and Savior. We do not have to remain so hardheaded that the only way we get it right is to continually experience the negative consequences of our unhealthy choices. We don’t have to remain balky and spooked at the idea of new ventures for the cause of God! But rather, by our willingness to surrender to the training of the Holy Spirit through the word of God, we may partake of more and more of our Lord’s divine nature, and escape the life-threatening corruptions of a lost and dying world—freed to joyfully serve the Most High God in satisfied peace (see 2 Peter 1:2-4).

Consider Jesus’ encouragement to us:

…learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:29-30).

If you will choose by faith to go to work with Him, within the guiding bit and reins of His Word, learning to calmly evaluate and respond to the jackrabbits of surprises, the tumbleweeds of daily difficulties, and any other obstacle to spiritual growth.

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