4 Feb 2014

{Running} with horses

The Chinese calendar uses a twelve year cycle, each marked by an animal. Those born in the year are then described as having certain traits similar to the animal. When a new year rolls around, apt proverbs and jokes are tossed about. 2014 is the year of the horse and I learnt a new favourite proverb:马到成功 (success is imminent once the horse arrives). You see, I was born in the year of the horse - and ain't it grand that my arrival at any scene would herald impending success!

But i got to thinking about all the horse-related experiences in my life, and to a passage of Scripture that really helped me.

horse experience 1
My first flight and my first mission trip. We flew into Thailand headed for the mountain tribes. Most of us had not trained for those mountains. There were supposed to be horses at the foot to help us carry stuff. But we were late, too late. So we had to trudge nearly five hours up the mountains with our puppets, guitar, bags and tired bodies as a gentle rain fell all about us. We slipped in the mud, we gave up many times even as the guide egged us on with her limited Chinese, saying repeatedly, "another few minutes". We city dwellers had no idea. But how I longed for those horses! We never saw them. We came back down bumping all the way on the back of a truck which at one point got stuck in a muddy ridge and we all had to get off and shove.

horse experience 2
The university had offered me a place to do Honours in Political Science & English Language. I was on board an international book ship when that information came out so I returned to school a month late. It was unnerving and I found my source of strength in this passage which I would type into my thesis introduction:

"If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out,
then how can you compete with horses?
If you fall down in a land of peace,
how will you do in the thicket of the Jordan? ~ jeremiah 12v5

I am not sure if my thesis supervisor picked up that I have referred to him as a footman; but my youthful zeal knew little bounds back then - upwards and onwards I was going to go!

horse experience 3
This time, i finally rode one; and nearly died! With two friends in New Zealand, we found our way to a hill where there was horse riding. The young Kiwi gal who ran the place sized us up and led us off to our horses. After a few brief introductory remarks, we found ourselves atop a horse each. Mine was a black stallion with a large bulgy stomach. Its name was Inky. We set off slowly and winded around the trail. Inky however had other ideas. It could undoubtedly pick up that I was a wimp (horse language for she doesn't know how to ride) and repeatedly veered off the trail to satisfy its love for far-out grasses growing at the edges. I was talking, coaxing, reining in...to little avail. After a nerve-wrecking hour, I dismounted and fell to the ground, my legs all gone soft and my groin in pain from straddling that fat tummy.

horse experience 4
My love for this majestic creature wouldn't wane it seems. How many silly Inkys can there be anyway? This time, I am on a trip with my brand new husband. We decide to go ride horses. No more mountains though, this was a coastal beach situation. Yes, firmly on the ground hooves. The sand, the wind, and even the gentle gallop was great - until - the horse got in the mood for some horse-trot. My feet came off the sitrrups and I let go and fell onto the soft sand. A few moments later, the other horses came around since mine overtook them sans rider. I felt just fine.
Later, i developed a nausea and we went to the doctor where we found I was pregnant. I suppose my baby and I fell off a horse.

horse experience 5
This time, I confront the horse I referred to years earlier. The nameless horse in Jeremiah that represents the trepidation and trials of a life of faith. With Pastor Eugene Peterson's help, I dig even deeper for a full, abundant life of faith-full responding to God.

"If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out,
then how can you compete with horses?
If you fall down in a land of peace,
how will you do in the thicket of the Jordan? ~ Jeremiah 12v5

These words came as a rebuke to a prophet who felt all ready to give up. I wasn't at that point when I read Run with the Horses, but it came soon enough -- and God had prepared my soul for the onslaught by drawing me to long for what is deeper and more solid.

Latest horse experience {12 years later}
I had to go say it, "it's the year of the horse, let's do something with horses!". The now older hubs thought it a brilliant stroke and so we all went to The Riders Loft and pulled on some boots and helmets. My horse was a good fourteen hands tall. I cannot look over it at all. When I mounted Galvin, I wanted to get off even quicker. But my daughter and son were next in line to mount theirs so I breathed deep and psyched myself that my fear of heights cannot possibly apply to this. "Mind over matter - what you don't mind, won't matter"; I silenced my fears.We rode around the sand pit a few times each and the trainer applauded us all when we were done.

Associated by birth
Missed by timing
Challenged by its powers
Threatened by its will
Strengthened by its metaphor
Safeguarded from its whim

Nay, my horse encounters are not over yet.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Jenni for that scripture it really spoke to me x


Thank you for sharing your thoughts and heart here, and helping to to build a real, faith-full community together!