Saturday, July 26, 2008

Come to Jesus!

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy,
it does not boast, it is not proud.

It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil
but rejoices with the truth. It always protects,
always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

(1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Hang with me if you dare; I'm going out on a limb.

Heather once explained the concept of the Boss Hoss to me by saying the lead mare is God, and as far as my horses are concerned, I need to be God. I took that to mean I need to be their undisputed leader. Well, that too, but recently, I've come to realize it means much more than that.

I am not at all a religious person; the terms "introspective" and "spiritual" are more apt descriptors. The last church with which I was affiliated was Methodist, but in truth, the reasons I went were because it made Mike happy, and because I wanted our son to have the structure and fellowship growing up.

I never quite "got" the whole God thing, but it certainly wasn't due to a lack of effort. This was baffling and disappointing to me since I perceive the world abstractly, symbolically. God being both, I thought there must be something wrong with me that I just wasn't able to figure it out. Be more like God -- what does that mean and how is that even possible? I'm a human and a pretty darned flawed one. Do unto others, love unconditionally, let go and let God, our God is an awesome god. Yeah, yeah, blah, de-blah. The only times I came close to trusting God were those times when there was nothing else I could do, i.e., all else had failed, what did I have to lose?
I prayed and went through the motions of worshiping and praising God. Nothing I ever heard in church touched me on any other than a superficial level. I knew of God; I did not really know God. At some point, I abandoned traditional prayers and simply told God I wanted to know Him. I asked him to reveal Himself to me; speak to me in ways I understand. I asked for a personal relationship with Him, to experience Him in a way to which I'd heretofore only paid lip service. I had no idea what that might be like. There were no lightning bolts, no beams of heavenly light, no instant transformation.

Several years ago, our son went through some tragic, gut-wrenching times in his too-young life.
Watching the drama unfold was heartbreaking. Mike and I were in knots, helpless, caught in that awful limbo to which parents of adult children are consigned. It's a place where you know what needs to happen -- and you want to just grab them by the shoulders and say, "GO THIS WAY, TRUST ME" -- but you also know they need to figure things out for themselves. I found myself awake too early one Sunday morning, channel surfing. I stopped at a the beginning of a sermon by a handsome, squeaky clean, young preacher with a soft, charming Texas drawl. He said, "I want to talk to you today about lifting your children up to God." Seriously, the hairs all over my body stood on end. Rather than simply quoting Bible verses, he had the insight to apply biblical concepts and platitudes to everyday life in a very real and genuine way. In the time since, I've never actually made it a point to watch his show -- I can't tell you when or what station it's on -- but every time I do happen to catch it, there always seems to be a message that is personal and relevant.

Unless you've been under a rock for a very long time, you know I'm talking about Joel Osteen. Serendipitously, I came across his book "Your Best Life Now" at the grocery store and bought it the day after I first saw him on TV. It didn't take long at all before I began experiencing tiny shards of insight; Joel talked about how to recognize God's presence in everyday life, how to ask for His guidance and how to LISTEN with my heart. He talked about how to see God in the people around me. All of a sudden, it seemed as if all things were working together perfectly, propelling me headlong into the personal relationship with God which had always eluded me. I recall a weekend that, through no effort or direction on my part, was my big, fat "aha" moment. Insight and enlightenment, as it were, came to me wave upon wave. I felt as though I were completely different and yet, I was still just me.

I have found a very real sense of gratitude for every aspect of my life. Each day, I thank God for trusting me with my horses, for deeming me worthy of owning them, which I consider a great privilege. I ask for the understanding, intuition, wisdom and discernment to do what I need to do with them. About a week ago, I was talking to God about the perpetually challenging Poco, and I began praying for him, rather than about him. I didn't quite know how to do that, so I l
ifted him up to God in the same way I lifted my son that day and many times since. I prayed that I would understand him better, communicate with him in ways he understands. I prayed that God would open Poco's heart to me, so he'd trust me: "You know, kind of be to him what You are to me." Wow. I need to be to Poco what God is to me. I need to guide and direct him, but not forget he is a being with sentience and will. I need to show him the right path with kindness, firmness, gentleness, faithfulness, grace and mercy. God loves me because of who I am, not in spite of who I am. I need to love Poco that same way, for who he is and where he is right now, at the same time gently showing him what he can be. No matter how many times he acts like a complete jerk, I need to correct him, forgive him and keep moving forward. At times, that may require tough love, but never harshness, impatience, or cruelty. That's what it means to love unconditionally.

It has taken me a very, VERY long time to get to a place where I truly want to do what God wants me to do.
I choose to walk the path He's lain for me. I choose to be guided and directed. I choose to submit, to listen and to wait. I choose these things because God really is an awesome god. I don't mean "awesome," uttered in subdued reverence -- I mean shout-it-from-the-rooftops "AWESOME!" God so ROCKS! I trust God, not just some of the time, but all of the time. This is the place to which I must guide Poco: the place where he is willing to be willing; the place where all the hurts, injustices, and betrayals in his past melt away; the place where he has faith in me, trusts me, and wants to please me.

Poco may never be a step-out-of-the-boat faithful disciple; in fact I see him as a messed up cross between doubting Thomas, stubborn Peter, and conniving Judas. But whether his heart softens and he comes totally to Jesus (so to speak) or not, my job is to remain steadfast and true. His psyche is so damaged, if I don't, he will always be maladjusted, detached, and cynical. I am this horse's last best hope, and I intend to do right by him.

Y'all want ice cream with that nut cake?

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