My apologies to those of you who don't understand horses...some of this may be confusing to you, but I hope you can still catch the lesson I learned the other day while working with a friend's horse.
I watched her ears and felt her muscles tense and relax under my seat as I tried to understand why she wasn't getting what I was communicating. We had no saddle between us to interfere with my signals, and her hackamore fit just fine. I looked where I wanted to go and asked again. Loose, open reins, a firm but gentle squeeze...nothing. Open reins, squeeze, and a click with my tongue. Her ears flicked back towards me but her feet didn't even shift. Again, but stronger: reins, legs, voice, and seat. Still nothing.
Being one of my first times working with Dia, I expected that we might have a couple small misunderstandings, but I had thought it would be easier than this. Ground work with her was nearly flawless. She joined up with me pretty well and walked by me like a shadow as we worked in the round pen. I knew there were no physical problems with her as I had just examined her all over and only found a hint of healing thrush in her front hooves. There was no reason for Dia to not be walking forward.
I decided to try again but added leverage to my list of signals. Sliding my hand down the right rein I pulled Dia's nose toward her shoulder. As her neck curved to the right I gave a slight squeeze with my legs and again used every signal I had to ask her to start walking.
She took a step!
...but as soon as I let up on the reins and straightened her out she stopped again. So we did the neck stretch and signal method again but in the other direction. A few more steps.
Gradually, one step to the right, two steps left, three to the right, one step left, and so on, we started to move forward.
After a little more work we ended on a good note, I hopped off, and Dia was able to go where she had wanted to go the whole time - back to her hot dusty pasture.
But I was disappointed. Just down the hill from where we had worked on baby steps was a pond that would have been perfect to take Dia swimming in. It was a hot day, and I knew that both Dia and I love water. If she had only cooperated we could have spent that half hour chilling in the pond together instead of dancing back and forth under the blazing sun.
As I scuffed back to the tack shed a verse drifted through my mind...
"Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, else they will not come near you..." (Ps. 32:9).
If only Dia had understood that I simply wanted her to walk us down the hill to the fresh, cool pond, I know she would have gladly pranced forward. Yet because she didn't know where I wanted to take her, even with a bridle we could only train when I'd had so much planned.
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts..." (Is. 55:9).
How often do I behave just like Dia? My God, whose thoughts and plans are far beyond my understanding, works with me daily. He knows everything about me, and He does all He can to communicate with me. Yet sometimes I seem not to hear. My narrow view of life does not include the wonderful ideals and brilliant goals that God wants to attain with me. So when He asks me to move forward, I hesitate, and we start our little dance. He works with me where I will listen and grows me where I will obey until we slowly start to head in the direction He initially intended.
But do I miss or postpone some of His blessings because of my unwillingness to go forward?
As I watch Dia stand in the sun, swatting pesky flies with her thick tail, I humbly surrender my disappointed heart to my own Master that I'm sure I have disappointed many times.
"Dear Father, Your patience and love for me amaze me. Your plans are beyond what I can imagine. Though I can't always fathom the full picture, I want to listen and obey immediately the first time You speak. I don't want to be like the horse or mule... I want to follow You to Plan A, not force You to lead me to Plan B... Please, don't stop training me. Keep me in Your fold and under Your care. I love You (because You first loved me). Amen."