“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Do not be like the horse or mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.” Psalm 32:8-9
The Bible often makes comparisons of animals to people. For example, those who believe in the Lord are referred to as sheep. This means they are to be harmless, gentle and willing to follow the shepherd wherever He may lead them.
Sometimes, however, the analogy is not quite so complimentary. I am thinking in particular of Jeremiah chapter five, verses 8-9; “They are all well-fed, lusty stallions, each neighing for another man’s wife. Should I not punish them for this?” declares the Lord. Truth is often painful, but always for the good. As a hobby, I used to train horses instead of watching T.V.. Sometimes I think I’d been better-off watching T.V.. Horses remind me of people. When it comes to faith in God they have much in common. I personally believe that when the Creator created the horse, He had in mind a creature that would be something like a cross between a dog and a cat – half man’s best friend and half – well – you know, (sorry cat lovers), but bigger of course! O.K., for the purpose of clarification, let’s say the Trainer is God and some people are the horse, (trainee). When the trainer walks into the pen with a bucket full of oats, the trainee will walk up to him, (very cautiously of course), grab a mouthful, then turn and quickly make tracks the opposite direction. Just like some folks, I guess it wanted its oats and eat-em too! Seems like lots of people want all the good things God has to offer, (wealth, land, food, health, etc…), but are not willing to be caught of the Lord and used for his purposes. The horse is not aware that he relies on the trainer for life itself.
Wild horses, just like some people, are really, really wild. These horses are quite to see running on the open range, running free. Many people almost seem to envy them; eating, sleeping, breeding, and running around, without seemingly a worry or care. But one must keep in mind the horse was created to be used. There is nothing finer than to see a man and a horse functioning as a cohesive unit at an event of some sort such as a rodeo, horse show or simply on some grassy plain herding cattle. If you could ask one however, the wild horse, also like some people would probably tell you that he prefers the wild life. I am reminded their was a time when they used to turn wild horses into dog food. I can just imagine papa wild horse asking junior; “Son, when you grow up what do you want to be?” Can you imagine the little colt telling his daddy that when he grows up he wants to become a fifty pound bag of Alpo?
This is what God says of the wildness of the human spirit and its resulting stubbornness:
“But they, our forefathers became arrogant and stiff-necked and did not obey your commands. they refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader to return to their slavery…. You warned them to return to your law, but they became arrogant and disobeyed your commands. They sinned against your ordinances by which a man will live if he obeys them. Stubbornly they turned their backs on you, became stiff-necked and refused to listen. For many years you were patient with them. By your spirit you admonished them through your prophets. Yet they paid no attention…,” Nehemiah 9:16-17, 29-39
Sound familiar? Do you feel like you’re looking into a spiritual mirror when you read these verses? Take heart, there’s more;
“But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate and slow to anger and abounding in love…,” (vs. 17). “But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God…,” (vs. 31).
In time, the Trainer is able to get a halter on the trainee. When attempting to lead it however, the contest of wills is on as to just who is going to lead who! Since the beginning of time, man has been trying to lead God around – to try to make Him into what he wants Him to be and make Him do what he wants Him to do! Hopefully you realize this is all wrong and completely unnatural. The Bible says, “who are you o man to talk back to God?” (Romans 9:20). The first thing the trainee must learn is just who’s boss. At first he resists. Then after awhile, the trainee may learn that the trainer is in fact the boss and may concede to his training and leading. On occasion however, he will still resist, just like the rest of us ex-wild horses! The trainee is learning to trust the Trainer. The word of God says to “trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding,” (Proverbs 3:5). He is fearful at first and tries to flee. But then he begins to progress, well on his way to being useful in the service of his Trainer who has by now become his Master.
There is one last comment I would like to make about horses – they must have water. Jesus said to drink from the fountain of living waters which would never run dry; “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water…; Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life,” (John 4:10, 13-14). There is an old, old saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” How true! There is an even older saying, “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death,” (Proverbs 14:27). If it were up to me, well aware of the importance of such matters, I would make them drink, knowing that it meant life or death. But God is not that way, knowing that if you force anything on anyone, they will simply choke on it or spit it out! They must want living water. Do you? Feeling dry lately? Parched? what I have tried to do is to lead you to the source of the fountain of living water. Note that it is “living water.” In Jesus is the life of the human spirit and the world. But I cannot make you drink. The choice is yours alone. What will you decide to be – a stubborn ole horse or what God intended for you all along, from the beginning of time – a human headed for heaven?