If you have ever been hurt by an authority figure, you often think twice when you hear the word submission. The abuse of power and authority seeds a struggle with submission for most of us. What strikes me most is how this struggle can directly affect my own trust in God. (Forewarning, I’m going to speak candid today about my spiritual walk.) When I hear His invitation to venture somewhere new, to step deeper into the unknown, to leave behind what is familiar for something that feels strange–uncomfortable–foreign–I want to buck like the wild horse. I fear that things won’t work out once I’m there. That I’ll find myself in “No Man’s Land”…that I will have made a big mistake and not only will I but the ones I love will pay the consequences too. There is enough fear to paralyze my first step.
I find myself thinking that it would help if I had a signed list of guarantees from God before I take a risk. I want to know that what I’m sacrificing, what I’m choosing to give up…will be worth it.
Monty Roberts, the original horse whisperer, is known for being able to break a wild horse in under thirty minutes.
photo from Tumblr page
He writes, “For centuries, humans have said to horses, ‘You do what I tell you or I’ll hurt you.’ Humans still say that to each other – still threaten, force and intimidate. I’m convinced that my discoveries with horses have value in the workplace, in the educational and penal systems, and in the raising of children. At heart, I’m saying that no one else has the right to say ‘you must’ to an animal – or to another human.”
How many of us also see God as this angry force who is getting more impatient with us each day? We may even picture Him threatening us to do His will or else we will be punished? So we flee the opposite direction, not wanting to risk again. And yet, the heart of God is the exact opposite.
When I watched this video of Monty Roberts working with a wild horse, my heart was moved so deeply. I saw myself as the wild horse, and Monty playing the role of God who invites us to follow, or as he says “to join up”. He invites us to break free from being immobilized. I watched Monty verbally affirm the wild horse, encouraging her to try all options of escape, understanding her fear of being in a foreign place, her need to buck when a saddle was put on for the first time. And there was never once a hint of judgement or disappointment in Monty’s voice as they went through this process together. I saw the moment the horse chose to bow her heard in submission because she felt safe. And the turning point of when Monty turned his back on the horse to intentionally invite her in. I was struck by how he was giving her the opportunity to choose to accept his invitation. I saw a wild horse be transformed through this gentle, loving invitation versus being broken by force, intimidation, or threats. I saw me. And I saw God.
I want to share this video with you because I think many of us are being invited to step into the unknown. To take greater steps of faith and risk. And we long to know that living a life of the unknown is not only worth the risk but also safe. The story between Monty Roberts and a wild horse reminded me that the One I follow is trustworthy, loving, and has my best intentions at heart. And He is big enough for all the bucking I do. He understands how awkward it is for me to have a new saddle, go to a new place, that I’m unfamiliar with–have no gauge for. He is my friend in it all, not ever looking at me with disappointment.
We long to live out the dreams we carry. And yet, those dreams exist in a land that we have never seen. There is no way to journey there without leaving what is familiar. We think the process might break us like a wild horse being broken. And yet, we are being prepared to journey with the One who knows where we are going–who sees the land we cannot see–who planted the dreams in our heart that we carry and knows that the training we are undergoing will equip us for what is ahead. Are we being broken or trained… When we feel like he turns His back, like Monty does in this video, do we receive it as rejection or invitation to join?
Does this video of Monty Roberts speak to you, like it speaks to me? What does your heart tell you as you watch him work with this wild horse?