"Show me Your strong love in wonderful ways, O Savior of all those seeking Your help against their foes. Protect me as You would the pupil of Your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings as You hover over me." Psalm 17:7-8

Thursday, July 7, 2011

God Still Speaks Through Horses

The Lord has been speaking to me on the subject of honor for some weeks now.  I’ve wanted to write from a position of mastery, but honestly I write from a kindergarten desk, a place of only beginning to truly understand what honor looks like and how integral it is to joy in the Christian life.  But, God, Joy-Giver, is working with me communicating truth to me on this wonderful subject: HONOR.  What follows are some notes from a sermon (only the first ten minutes – I’ll share more in future posts), delivered by Chris Bennett.  After notes on the sermon, entitled “A Community of Honor,” you’ll find a short piece I wrote about a horse named Bunny who also delivered a powerful sermon to me on the same subject days before Chris Bennett.

Notes:  We ought to live in a community of honor!  Typically we honor or recognize people for what they have achieved or accomplished in life.  We tend to focus on honoring people most at their funeral, when they are no longer alive to receive it!!  In the Christian life honor is meant to be built into the fabric and DNA of every one of us. 

What does it look like when a community lives in such a way that people feel honored and valued not just at the end of life but daily.  I Peter 2:17 says, "Show proper respect to everyone; Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king."   There is a commission in Scripture to honor everyone.  Every person is valuable to God.   We all have lives worth more than we can imagine.  The enemy would like to convince us otherwise.

Honor is different than just encouragement.  Encouragement says, "This is what I like about you."  Honor says, "This is what I see in you."  It's a deeper place of encouragement, not just words, but finding the value and heart that each person carries and calling that out.  Honor means to place a high value upon something or someone.  When someone enters your presence and later walks away from an encounter with you they should feel more valuable than when they first approached, because your job is to bestow value upon every person that walks into your sphere.

Mother Theresa spent much of her life finding the most broken dying people in gutters and cleaning their wounds.  She created a home for the dying so every person, of great worth to God, could die with dignity.  Honor puts dignity and value on people regardless of what they've done and where they've been.  Every person has intrinsic worth and carries something of great value to God.  Honor celebrates who somebody is without stumbling over who they are not.  (Bill Johnson)

The challenge is that we have issues.  And don’t kid yourself, everybody has issues!!  We must learn to celebrate who people are, not camp on who they are not.  Romans 12:10 instructs, "Love one another with brotherly affection and outdo one another in showing honor."  If you are a competitive person this is your verse!  The foundation of honor is love.  You cannot honor unless it is founded on love.  What would it look like if we chose to outdo every person we encounter in showing them value and honor?

Proverbs 29:23 says, "Those who are lowly in spirit will obtain honor."  If we worry about obtaining honor (recognition, appreciation…) we will not get it, but if we will humble ourselves and give honor to all, we will in turn receive honor.  To receive honor we must give it away.


Bunny’s Sermon:

My daughter and I watched intently as Bunny, an Arabian cloaked in dark chocolate, repeatedly walked in circles about her rider submitting to a warm-up exercise.  Round-and-round she went, dust rising from the floor of the arena, obeying without resistance the one who soon would climb upon her back for a ride.  She orbited this young girl a fraction of her size, gladly anticipating riding together as one.  Obviously mutual trust and respect had been lovingly cultivated for commands were received readily and obeyed enthusiastically. 

Charlcie and I couldn’t help but notice that Bunny’s tongue hung limp fully extended from her mouth waving in the dusty air like that of a happy dog.  Tickled, we remarked to each other that we’d never seen a horse “pant for joy,” and that it made her look a little silly.  The stable owner standing only a few feet away informed us of Bunny’s story.  Apparently, at birth a large tumor in her head threatened her survival.  Born to thoroughbred parents, her owner valued her highly in spite of this defect and opted not to destroy her.   Instead he paid for a series of complex surgeries to preserve her life and saw to it rehabilitation and training optimized her intrinsic worth.  While deaf in one ear and left with a severed nerve controlling the muscles responsible for keeping her tongue in cheek, Bunny nonetheless thrived.  With a jaw out of alignment she somehow managed to eat and grow healthy and strong.  Possessing the spirit of an overcomer, her hearing loss did not deter her from heeding with eager heart her trainer’s commands.  Unswerving obedience led to her becoming a ribbon-capturing champion.

When bridled, Bunny’s tongue remained neatly tucked in her mouth held in place by the bit used to guide her.  Her grace and beauty in the arena mesmerized all onlookers.  With a proud gait she pranced, head held high, in no way hindered by her “handicap.”  Those at the stable who knew her did anything but laugh at her lolling tongue during preliminary workouts, rather they quickly jumped at the chance to defend her honor, to tell her overcoming story, and point out who she really was:  a champion.

After Bunny completed her circuits in the arena, I approached her in the barn.  Glistening with sweat and even more glorious up close, she gently lowered her head and invited me to run my hand over her nose and to follow the unique curve created by removal of the mass.  Her velvet coat sloped lovely into this valley, a reminder to all of both her journey to victory and her owner’s extreme love for her.  In her eyes I saw flashing like a gem, contentment.  Love, far more than bloodline, had made her the honored champion God destined her to be!!

By God’s grace I entered the world healthy and whole physically.   However, I’m the first to admit that I possess “handicaps” which the Lord, my Owner/Trainer must contend with.  Spiritually speaking, He has had to excise cancerous growths (identity distortions, lies embraced…).  He has had to deal with impaired hearing, and at times bridle my tongue that I might run in union with Him.  During warm-up exercises I often feel as Bunny must when dust and flies threaten to distract and distress, but my Trainer works tirelessly and He sees to it that I learn to focus and endure to the end.  He honors me by drawing out my true identity – who He made me to be.  While on occasion I feel drained, tired, even overworked, my Trainer God is merciful and knows exactly what He is doing.  He is teaching me to boldly yet humble carry His life on Earth’s battlefields.

If Bunny could speak she’d say, “Terry, your Lord, like my owner, chose not to destroy you.  Rather He adopted you at great personal cost and healed you of what would have claimed your life.  He chooses to operate on the ones He loves to restore them to their royal bloodline destiny.  It may seem He requires much of you, you may feel self-conscious concerning your handicaps, but just trust, listen, obey.  You, too, are His champion.  He looks at you and sees His champion.  He will see to it that you are trained to run sure-footed, neck held high for having been reined in by Him over time until trust and habit are well established."  Thanks, Bunny, for a much needed sermon!!

Daughter Lori and Johnny at English Riding Lessons

Honored to Live In His Shadow,

For more inspirational reading, please visit Spiritual Sundays at the following link:  http://www.bloggerspirit.blogspot.com/

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing about this remarkable horse. We can learn so many lessons from nature and from God's creatures.