Without doubt, the hardest thing about the journey of faith is the word, why? I try not to speculate too much on God's ultimate purposes for the things that erupt and collide in my life but the truth is I get very attached to my own ideas. In the case of our little horse, Chance, my idea was an inspiring before and after. Yes, I questioned the wisdom of allowing Haley to ride and train this animal, especially after he bucked her off or shied, for the 92nd time, at an invisible bump in the arena dirt. A gentle nudging kept telling me to keep going so I felt sure there was a spectacular finish in mind. My prayer became simply that God would tell me definitely when it was time to move on.
Haley rode Chance for a year, almost to the day. In fact, her first and last rides were nearly identical--a peaceful, meandering trail ride with me. Two days after that last ride in August, I received the unhappy news of his seizure in the pasture and we decided we could no longer ignore his poor coordination. Chance's days as a riding horse may be over.
When I find myself disappointed, unsure, wavering, the only thing I can do is loosen my little boat of faith from its tightly moored position at the dock of human expectation and preconceived notion. Just loosen that baby and let it float on the great ocean of Grace knowing that no matter what, God has his eye on my position. I know there is purpose in the events in my life; in the details that do not make sense upon first examination.
It was a casual conversation with Haley that opened my eyes to the great blessing we've received because of this little horse. We were discussing the traits we were looking for in a new mount, the specific skills we desired.
I named off a few things then said, "So, what is the most important thing you want in a new horse?" I was pretty sure the word "gamer" would come out first.
"Friendship," she said, without hesitation. "It doesn't matter if you win lots of ribbons; the friendship is what's important."
This from a girl that not long ago couldn't stick with anything that didn't involve pretty instant gratification. Some exciting trade-off. I thought of her struggle with anger and self-control while working with a difficult horse, an animal that didn't make her look good or win lots of ribbons. Yet a horse that soaked up her attention and looked forward to her company. After a year of love and frustration in equal parts, she learned that horses shouldn't exist as pretty accessories. It's about the friendship.
Note to self: Quit giving up on God's purposes.
Recently I was thinking about friendship and how it is the only thing that matters in my significant relationships whether with my horse, my husband, or the Creator. God isn't a good luck charm; an accessory; a tradition; a heavenly Santa. My relationship to Him isn't some cosmic barter system--"Hey, if I'm polite to the !@#*! tailgating me I deserve to find my favorite jeans on sale, or a spare $20 in the sofa cushions."
It's about the friendship.