7 Ways that Horses Speak of God
From Laurie Brock's Horses Speak of God: How Horses Can Teach Us To Listen and Be Transformed.
Getting out of our heads.
These creatures teach me to feel life and faith in my body and in my being, not to cover these feelings with words and intellect. They push me to silence my brain and let my body feel. They feel my soul’s emotions often before I do and entice me to experience my own emotions.
Saddling up anyway.
Riding (Izzy) didn’t give me particular skills in being present with grief. Riding her had given me courage accented with humility. Riding her made me admit my fear and saddle up anyway. And riding had, over time, given me a new way to experience and express thoughts and feelings and to understand words of faith in a deeply visceral way, a complex, holy shorthand for a vocabulary of faith spoken best by these animals that have intrigued, inspired, and humbled humans for eons.
Control is tentative and faltering.
I began to ride as a hobby. I did not expect to learn a language that spoke of God. But Izzy’s words helped me understand the moment of walking forward in faith and life, knowing that control is tentative and faltering, but that living and riding with any sort of existence means we walk right up to the verge and let our feet go beyond the threshold of comfort into the unknown. We cede our illusion of full control and are present to that moment.
God is alive and moving.
We too often forget that God is alive and moving. Yes, God is steadfast, but steadfast is not mixed in concrete, set into cold permanence, and displayed behind glass. God is incarnate flesh and blood in Jesus, who lived and moved.
He walked over dusty roads. He walked on water. He sat with people and ate. He prayed. He moved through holy places to teach and heal and turn over tables. Jesus was filled with movement. And yet, we are often guilty of the sin of making Jesus into an idol, cast only in stone and jewels and metal, fixed in one place as we live and move and have our being in the life away from Christ.
Nope. Jesus moves with us. Jesus, being God and all that goes with that, even moves us. Our faith needs movement, flexibility in the tendons and muscles that hold it together. And yet we humans are remarkably inflexible in matters of life and faith. We forget that movement and change are aspects of living things.
A term the writers of the Bible use to capture the essence of being averse to God’s movement is stiff-necked. Our vision is cast in one direction, usually one we have picked because we like the view. We cannot or will not move. We become riders with the bad habits of leaning forward, sitting as if we are cast in cement, and grabbing the reins with all muscle and no finesse and wondering why our horses don’t cooperate. . . .
I cannot be a good rider if I’m stiff-necked.
And yet I often try to be a good Christian by being stiff-necked. Stiff-necked may look firm in faith, fixed in Jesus, and grounded in God, but it’s not. It’s simply humanity being stubborn. It’s humans arguing with God that our vision and understanding of God is the correct one, the one we’re going to use to guide our way through life, and our yelling that our understanding of God cannot ever change.
A new perspective.
Riding, for the many gifts it gives me, shifts me wholly into the present moment. Guiding a thousand-pound creature of God around the arena is not the time to consider a grocery list or the many things you’d like to say to someone who has harmed you and bruised your soul. And an interesting thing happens for me while I’m actively in the present moment instead of dwelling on fixing the patches of concrete of my hate and frustration. I have a new perspective.
Courage and fear together.
Riding is not as much stellar moments of accomplishments as we strive to perfection as it is steady work, being afraid and riding anyway. Even being afraid and knowing this isn’t the right time and horse at the moment and getting off. Riding is not faking courage, but instead allowing enough space for courage and fear to reside together. Fear, after all, is a useful emotion. Just not the only useful emotion. So are confidence, persistence, and belief that day after day, fear does not have the final note in the song of our lives.
Faith is not as much stellar moments of accomplishments as we strive for holy perfection as it is steady work. We listen, we pray, we love. We admit we are afraid to forgive because we were hurt and we might get hurt again. We might be afraid to love because we have lost those we love and grief scares us. We are afraid to ask questions because the answers, if we get them, might lead to more questions. When God meets us in our relationship and says, “Fear not,” God isn’t telling us to act as if we aren’t scared. Instead, God reminds us that fear will not be the only emotion or the conclusive one. When we are scared and fearful, we join a long line of faithful disciples who responded initially with fear, but stayed around.
Faith is being fearful, and fear is part of the life of faith. It is falling off and being bruised and getting back on. Fear is being aware of the risks of love and loving anyway.
If we bring forth the fear within us, we will also find courage. We will also find God.