Enjoy the Ride! Or Not!

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I grew up fascinated with horses; I grew up in Houston. The two did not go together too well. No matter how much I pleaded, I just could not have a horse. So my mother did the next best thing. She drove me faithfully, every Saturday morning, 45 minutes one way to Westheimer Stables where I rented a horse for one hour.  Every week it was the same, the horse plodded away from the barn at a rate that would make a sloth jealous.  No matter how much prodding I did,  no matter how hard I kicked, I could never get them to break into a trot leaving the barn. I took, what seemed to me , like forever to get anywhere.  Every week, I hoped, this would be the Saturday I was successful in getting the horse to go even a little bit faster. Every week, I failed.

Returning to the barn,  however, was totally different. What took 50 minutes to cover at a walk, now took 10 to cover at a gallop.  No matter how hard I tried, I could never get them to do anything less than all out gallop. I grew to love that part. It only lasted a few minutes but it was the highlight of my week (once I got over being scared).

Looking back, I can’t help but wonder about what seems so obvious now. Why spend so much time trying to change something I couldn’t change? Why not instead, sit back and relax and enjoy the slow, seemingly tedious walk away from the stables. If I had, maybe that part of the ride wouldn’t seem so frustrating.  Maybe with a little practice, I would have noticed enjoyable things along the way  – the sun on my face, the rhythm of the horse, the wonderful sound of hooves on the ground.  Who knows what wonders I missed? Those rides took place nearly 45 years ago and yet, I can remember them like they were yesterday. I remember thinking that if I did something different this week, the horse would respond better. And when every attempt of mine failed, I remember thinking that it was my fault. Weird, right? I mean these are rental horses who do this daily over and over and over again like robots. But I wanted my ride to be different and when it wasn’t I felt like I failed.

That theme replays over and over again in my life – trying to change what isn’t mine to change and letting the failure of those attempts lessen my belief in me. If there is a lesson in the rental horses, it should be just this – if I truly employed the message of the Serenity prayer, I could sit back and enjoy the ride cherishing the parts I like without letting the parts I don’t like steal too much from me.  I can only change what is within my power to change and rest in the fact that God can take care of the remainders.  And prayerfully, with God’s grace, it won’t take me 45 years to know the difference.

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pic credit: besthorsesupplies.com

pic credit: whiskedawaykenya.com

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Great Faith

Jesus healed people, this we know. He healed them because of their faith be it little or great. Two instances in the New Testament stand out where He healed someone and commented that they had great faith. Only two out of all the healings that took place. Most of the time, Jesus was describing people’s faith as little faith.

When I look at these reports, what stands out to me is that the little faith was usually spoken of in regards to Jewish people, whereas the great faith was spoken about Gentiles. By the time of Jesus’ life, the Pharisees had increased God’s Ten Commandments to over 600 rules people had to follow to be righteous and to have the blessings of God on their life. The Jews would be terribly conscious of their failure to perform all those rules, I would think. Who could keep over 600 rules and have time to live life? It’s no wonder they had little faith to believe they could receive a miracle, they were too aware of their inability to keep enough rules to deserve a miracle. The Gentiles, however, didn’t live under such a burden. They wouldn’t see a massive pile of failures between themselves and Jesus as the Jews would have. They could come without the guilt and condemnation that failure flavors our lives with and present themselves just as they are – someone in need, someone who heard Jesus had answers, someone who saw Jesus’s love and grace and mercy as greater than the sum total of their failures. They focused on Jesus while the Jews focused on their ability to deserve healing based on their ability to keep the law. As Dr. Phil would say, “how’s that Law working for you now?”

The truth is the Law didn’t work for them. Jesus didn’t come to abolish the Law, however, He came to fulfill it’s demands on our lives so that we could live under the grace and freedom of not having to be under the Law. Trying to keep laws and rules about our relationship with Jesus only keeps us from Him; trusting in His grace and mercy draws us to Him. The Gentiles had the advantage there; the Jews just didn’t get it. Great faith vs little faith. The question becomes am I healed because I adhere to rules and laws or am I healed because I know Jesus took care of all of that on my behalf because He knew I couldn’t do it? Do I earn the blessings of God in my life or do I simply accept them by faith?

How I want it to be said of me that I have great faith. All to often, though, I am too aware of my failures to feel deserving of Your blessings. Help me to trust more in the forgiveness You offer and the grace You provide that frees me from the burden of performance. I come to You now believing for my healing and I thank You for it now. In Your name, I pray, Amen.

picture credit: westmainbaptist.com