I’ve been reading Bible Gateway’s “Tozer on Christian Leadership” e-newsletter. And I have to say that Tozer is not playing games. Nothing he says is smoke and mirrors: For him, the Christian leader is serious and real. Happiness is nothing to the leader. He lives only for the Lord, come joy or pain.
Tozer is right.
Christianity is not all flowers and rainbows. Once you’re a Christian, the world doesn’t suddenly turn into Fairyland with sugar and butterflies and little pink rainbow ponies. In fact, according to Tozer, life even gets harder: God, like the good Father He is, chastises us hard because He loves us.
Tozer writes that God can only soften our hearts by breaking them open. He will never barge in, but once you’ve invited Him in, answering His knock to the door on your soul, that door might be so rusted that He has to break the walls down to come in.
I know that’s how He came into mine, how He brought me to the realisation that He is out there and He is amazing. In my young and scarless life, the worst thing I had to go through was the serious illness of my horse. It might not sound that bad, but just ask my family. That horse means a lot to me, and I had never had to endure anything like this gut-wrenching fear that I would lose something I love so much ever before.
That was when I realised that my “magic” that I believed in hadn’t built the world and it wouldn’t save Skye. Only Jesus could save Skye, so that was the first time I got on my knees and said, “There’s nothing I can do. It’s all up to You now, Lord.”
But even as there are trials and pain in the world, I still believe that a child of God is joyful by definition. We have absolutely nothing to fear. Our bodies may be shattered, but in Christ our souls are safe. Whatever happens, as long as we hang on to Him, nothing can ever truly hurt us. That’s why Paul said to “rejoice in tribulation.” Paul knew what he was talking about when it comes to tribulation.
Tribulation doesn’t automatically mean sorrow. And God doesn’t always want to throw sorrow at you. In fact, I believe that joy is a mindset and not a circumstance, and as long as we trust Him, our joy will be great.
Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. ~ Psalm 37:4
That’s what He’s doing with me now, giving me the desires of my heart, even things that seem quite trifling in the face of His Kingdom. Christmas is all about giving, because Christ is really a gift Who keeps on giving: even thousands of years after He gave Himself on the cross, He still cares enough to give one small and insignificant morsel of humanity clinging to the face of the careless earth all the trifling little things that her tiny heart desires.
And they are little things. I have big dreams, but everyone has little desires, and because He loves me, He gives me what He sees fit to give me. I’m learning not to be afraid to ask Him for small things. It’s easy to believe that God doesn’t have time to give you a clear day so that you can work your horse, but He does. He has time for everything, and as long as those little desires don’t take up your whole life, He’s quite happy to give, too. But I always try to say, “Nevertheless, it is Your will and not mine that should be done,” like Jesus in Gethsemane. Because that same Hero said, “Even so, Father, for it seemeth good in Thy sight.”
He has given me little things. A good horse. A sunny day. The smell of leather and sweaty horse mingling with the sweet rising fragrance of the glorious wildflowers. An idea to fix a story. The sound of fingers on a keyboard. Little things. Heart’s desires.
When the time comes for me to walk back into the fire, I won’t forget the big and little blessings, the mighty and miniature miracles. Because even the trials and the fire are blessings. To God’s child, nothing is an accident. And I’m gonna keep thanking Him for it. After all, when we’ve been there ten thousand years/Bright shining as the sun/We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise/Than when we first begun.
As for the splendid steed that God used to break my heart and then to heal it, she’s doing
wonderfully. She’s finally getting a little fitter as we start to build up her work, and, naturally, I’m having a ball riding her around again. There just isn’t another Skye around. Period.
Under the guidance of the Mutterer, I changed her Pelham, which she wore on its harshest setting with a curb chain, back to a plain eggbutt snaffle. I had tried her in a snaffle years ago, but eleven-year-old Firn sitting on a half-trained seven-year-old Skye hadn’t a chance in the world of stopping her once she decided that she wouldn’t be stopped. Five years’ training in a Pelham later, she was starting to feel as if she was hiding behind the bit a little. Also, when teaching my beginners how to rise to the trot, I saw that Skye was getting pretty uncomfortable. No matter how much you shout at them, sometimes the poor dear beginners can’t control their hands, and this lead to some head-tossing on Skye’s part.
Now, in the snaffle, she’s being splendid. Doubtlessly a little harder on the hands than in the Pelham, but with training I hope that will clear up. She hasn’t taken off like a shot yet, so that’s a plus, and she is perfectly quiet with the students and much happier.
Also, I just like the way the snaffle looks. I hate big bits. Even when I know I have to use them and I’m being as quiet with my hands as I can and the horse is perfectly happy, I still feel vaguely guilty. A top-class dressage horse in a double bridle is naturally a different story, but I am pleased that Skye’s going nicely in a snaffle. Just hope it lasts.
As for Skye’s little son (another heart’s desire; I asked God for a healthy foal out of a healthy mare, and I got all that plus exactly the gender and colour foal I wanted, with the right markings and temper and everything), well, let the picture speak!!
Yes, that’s my poor dear baby horsie with me actually on his back!! Yeah, baby!!
As you can see, Dad finished building my lungeing ring (thanks a million, by the way!), and with the Mutterer’s help I moved Thunder and Achilles down to the mares. Thun has been gelded for two months, Achilles for four; Thunder is acting like a typical quiet little gelding, and Achilles still thinks he’s a stallion but can’t really do anything, and after Siobhan kicked the snot out of Achilles, they soon got along. Although Siobhan still kicks Achilles from time to time just to prove her point, despite the fact that she’s two hands shorter than him.
I presented Thunder to the Horse Mutterer because, well, throughout his two years Mr. Thun has had one (or possibly two) lessons with the Mutterer and I began to feel nervous because, left to my own devices, there’s no telling what I might do.
I did the same thing with Siobhan about two years ago, and when the Mutterer got that Look on his face and started to ask how old Thunder was, I was quite sure of which route this discussion was taking. When the Mutterer enquired as to my exact weight I knew I would be sitting on him before the hour was over. Thunder that is, not the Mutterer.
To be honest, I had done some backing myself. I had put his saddle and bridle on and lunged him with those so often that they were both old stuff to Thundy. I had even sat on him once to feel what it was like. (Rather like sitting on a coathanger, since you ask, and all he did was turn his head and stare at me in amazement for a few seconds before stolidly ignoring me). He’d done a little bit of basic long-lining, lots of lungeing mostly in a trot, and I had once tried to desensitise him, a somewhat pointless exercise as I simply couldn’t get him to spook.
He lunged beautifully, giving me a very nice canter on one side and a shorter one on his bad side, but without any bucking or kicking or even champing his bit. Then the Mutterer sent me off for my helmet and the next thing I knew I was on Thunder’s back and it was amazing. He was as sweet as pie. As expected, he was deplorably lazy, but despite the Mutterer’s protestations, I like them lazy better than wild. Some newly-backed horses, including Siobhan, feel like they’re about to go off like a rocket any moment; their backs are humped, their ears are flat, and you just know that at the least stimulus they’ll explode. (At least, if you’re me. If you’re the Mutterer, you just get on with it, to all appearances).
Thundy seemed to dismiss this latest antic of mine as yet another fallacy of this dopey human he’d ended up with, and after a few minutes, the Mutterer let us off the long line and we pottered around the ring at a walk. As long as the Mutterer was in the ring holding the long whip, Thun kept going, albeit slowly; but he didn’t understand my legs at all.
I rode him again the day after and he was surprisingly good; I mounted and rode him without anyone holding him or chasing him on at all, and he walked reasonably well around the ring to both ways, as well as changing direction without having an argument, protesting, panicking, tossing his head in the air or being a general loon.
In fact, he was Thunder. Not too bright or at all spirited, but sweet and steady.
In that way he has much the same temperament as Arwen. Arwie doesn’t have a bad bone in her body. She’s never malicious, treacherous, or wilfull; Arwen’s worst fault is a lack of confidence and an excess of fear. Also, she’s a terrible scatterbrain and not very smart. She’s actually a sweet, sensible, quiet little horse with the unfortunate tendency to having sudden panic attacks and brainless frights. These usually take the form of rearing, bucking or running away in zigzags.
Luckily, they decrease with time and effort, and she has been a star with riding out lately. I took her out three times this week and by the third time she was still a bit jumpy, but only had one very minor Little Moment. Still being in the three-week period after her AHS shot, Arwen can’t be jumped or galloped about right now, and I seriously miss the jumping. Riding out on her is getting fun again, though, and I’m remembering exactly why I love her so.
Then, of course, there’s His Awesomeness the Prince of Being Generally Wonderful, AKA Magic. He’s a heart’s desire that my Lord has granted hundredfold. Even if we can’t afford him at the end of it all, even if he never comes to live with the rest of the Horde and I never do train him to A-grade and we never do spend years and years together, I’ll always be thankful for the few months I’ve spent riding this beautiful silver horse.
He’s just got it all. I keep waiting for him to get difficult, and he doesn’t. He probably will, sooner or later, but I’ve been riding this spirited four-year-old TB for two months and haven’t fallen off or gotten a fright yet, so that has to count for something. We were popping around comfortable little jumps once a week at the most, doing tiny uprights around 40cm high (Magic hasn’t had any jump training beforehand), until the Mutterer told me I was boring him. So I built him a cross about 90cm high on the ends and 60cm in the middle and we charged at that and he was a star. His rhythm is still very wonky, neither of us having had much experience, but he is a very willing horse indeed; even if I don’t pull my weight, he’ll still jump, and can he jump! He tucks those long forelegs right up into his chest and floats. He makes all the jumps seem easy, even though he over-jumps by miles. He jumped it from both sides at a trot, very willingly and without touching the poles.
His flatwork is coming along, too. We put a different set of reins on him, that went through the bit and attached to the D-rings on his saddle, to get his nose in a bit. They’re off now and he’s going in a running martingale, and he’s much better. He doesn’t poke his nose in the air so much anymore and the stargazing is much diminished.
His canter has improved a lot; he no longer tears around like a maniac. Cantering on a turn to the left, he’s just perfect, balanced, quiet, and calm. To the right, though, he still doesn’t lead with his inside leg and tends to rush and worry. He has still quietened to the point where he can comfortably canter a figure-of-eight, the diameter of each circle being about 17 metres, which we didn’t manage when I started riding him.
He’s awesome. He just is. I really hope we can buy him someday.
And if we can’t… well, for God’s child there is no accident. He knows what I want, but He also knows what I need, and those two aren’t always the same thing. He knows what to give me. And that’s okay. If I can’t have Magic now, then even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.