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Seeds of the Kingdom

How to Train a Horse

by Liz Griffin

2 November 2014

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Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.
Proverbs 3:5-8, ESV

Wow! What an amazing experience to go to the ‘cowboy’ church in Florida! A crowd gathers each Sunday to watch as Skipper Calder demonstrates how to train horses. As they are watching and listening they get to learn the truths of the Gospel and how to live the Christian lifestyle.

I learnt we have to develop good relationships with horses by spending time with them, using good communication skills and teaching them to trust us as leaders. Our goal is for the horse to surrender to our will, and not to follow its own inclinations.

Horses have a limit as to how far they are able to trust in any given situation. At a certain point there is a wall in their minds that blocks them from going forward. Fear stops them being able to trust they’ll be safe.

People also have these walls, making it difficult for them to trust God. In our verses for today it talks about ‘leaning on our own understanding’ rather than trusting God, and about being ‘wise in our own eyes’. The result of doing this leads us towards evil rather than good. There is so much deception, and we can be led astray. We can miss God’s best plan. We can even end up opening our lives to curses rather than blessings.

It was fascinating to watch how a horse with an irrational fear of blue barrels and tarpaulins was gradually and gently led to overcome this fear. The trainer had to make the right thing to do easy and the wrong thing hard, until the horse was ready to make its own choice to do the right thing.

Quite a bit of time was spent getting the horse to stand fairly close to the objects it was frightened of and was wanting to avoid. When it did well it was encouraged and rewarded with treats. Mouthfuls of hay were then put out on a blue barrel and on the blue tarpaulin stretched out on the ground. The horse’s owner let it feed from his hand and slowly led it to the feared objects. Eventually it was tempted to reach the hay laid on the barrel and put its feet on the blue tarpaulin to take hay from his hand. Then hay was left on the tarpaulin and time given for the horse to wander around the arena and think about it. Should it take the risk and venture on to the tarpaulin by itself to get that hay?

A horse must never be forced to do anything. We must work out how to make the horse think it’s all its own idea to do it. Then it discovers for itself that there’s a rich reward in changing its old pattern of behaviour. In the same way Father God respects our free will choices but offers us a rich reward for trusting that His way is the right way and following His path. ‘Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones’ (Proverbs 3:5-8).

Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, please help us to overcome those fears that block us from knowing Your good and perfect will for our lives. Help us to make the choice to trust You and do things Your way. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Liz Griffin lived for 20 years as an expatriate in South Africa, Bahrain and Japan, as her husband Paul worked for an international oil company. Paul and Liz became involved with Ellel Ministries in 1991 as part of the ministry team and joined the full-time team at Ellel Grange in 1995. Paul and Liz teach and minister to those seeking healing in their lives and together have written two books, 'Anger - How Do You Handle It' and 'Hope and Healing For The Abused'.

 

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