The picture above is of yours truly with Flannel Jams, I call him Jammer, a new horse that came to us last Christmas as my wife's Christmas present. It was taken about a month or so after his arrival and with the exception of a few such occasions as above, he has strictly been handled by my wife. Recently we have started bringing him into the barn to eat and, accordingly, it has become necessary for me to handle him more frequently as I am the daytime caretaker of all of our animals.
And I know what you're thinking. What does this have to do with the title of this Sunday Morning Coming Down and the verse cited from Proverbs? Well, simply put, it's because both the horse and I have to develop a trusting relationship with one another in order for the duties of the day to get done without mishap. If he gets finicky or frightened, he can be dangerous if only because of his size and his hooves, which can be lethal when he feels threatened.. And likewise, if I become fearful and lack understanding of his behavior, he's likely not going to get fed on schedule and what should be a fun and rewarding relationship turns sour.
It's kind of like our relationship with God. He loves us and He wants us to trust Him for all things, not our self-centered views which can easily lead us astray. And that relationship. starting with faith and belief and then continuing through daily practice (worship, prayer and communion with others of like belief) builds the bonds of trust which are oh, so important.
Regarding my relationship with Jammer, a retired racehorse who came to us only understanding the commands go and stop, yesterday was only about the third day of my journey to make it work for both of us. It required patience, a little bit of stubbornness and lots of love. It started with feeding him in the pasture, graduated to being able to handle him ever so lightly and finally moved to me easily putting on his lead and having him follow me directly into the barn. Now, after only a few days, I can walk him into the barn without the lead. He knows that I am leading him where he wants to go, his feed bucket, and therefore I must be a good guy. It's a simple thing, but it is built on trust and both of us must retain that standard or it will disappear.
So, what if I'm bringing him in just by walking and he decides to go somewhere else? After all, he will sometimes get off track as do we humans. Well, all that is required is to grab a bucket with feed, approach him slowly and shake it near him and he's on track again. Of course, this only works at feed time and is only done when no strangers or distractions are present. But it is a process based upon understanding the bonds of trust and it makes the entire feeding process easy and simple when appropriately carried out.
In the case of our relationship with God, our entire reason for being is on the line based upon our commitment to trust. He loves us deeply and only wants what is best for us but we have to understand and trust that only He has the answers. When we falter before Him, he understands that we are mortal and make mistakes, but He expects us to rebuild the trust He wants to have in us by responding accordingly. We can earn it back, but it's up to us not to Him. But He does continue to work with us, just like I will continue to work with Jammer if he makes a mistake. It's a long term process and commitment.
Animals like Jammer are part of the wonders of nature that God provided us to have dominion over, requiring our proper care and direction. One of the greatest things about having them around us is that they offer so much in explaining the existence and omnipotence of our Loving Father. Will we open our eyes and hearts to see and listen? That's a question that each of us must answer for ourselves.
Dear Lord, We thank you for the wonders of nature like this beautiful horse, Jammer. We thank you for giving us such blessings to enjoy, care for and learn from. And we ask that you always use them as a way to show us the glories that only you can create, for human life is a learning process to prepare us for eternal life later. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.