I once went to a life skills seminar, and our guest speaker was a former rancher/horse trainer. He said that when we see the pictures of the wild horses we are not seeing the true state of the horses. We see them running free, the dust clouds swirling around their pounding hooves, tails raised and manes blowing in the wind. From a distance they are beautiful and majestic.
Truth is, when you catch one, and are able to get close to him, you will see a matted coat, open sores, pest infestation, twisted and deformed hooves, and a myriad of other unsightly conditions. From a distance, what appears to be beautiful, close up, reality tells a different story.
This horse trainer talked about the first encounter with this once free creature in the round pen. The horse will run for as long as it takes him to get tired, with his face toward the open range and his rear toward the trainer, who has positioned himself in the center of the pen. This trainer makes no move toward the horse. He just allows the horse to storm around in fury and frustration until he runs out of energy. The horse will run until he finally gets the realization that he’s not going anywhere. He realizes the thing standing in the center of the round pen somehow has the key to his future survival. The horse will stop at near exhaustion, or confront the trainer with a “what?” kind of attitude. It is saying, what do you want from me? That is the time the trainer can begin to tame the animal.
Once the trainer can get a rope on the horse, the next step is to put a big bit in the horse’s mouth. This big bit is over sized, and very uncomfortable. This is is the main bit that will be the determining factor in the finished product. But, if the horse will not submit to be broken, the trainer, this particular trainer, will release him. There is no compromise, if the horse can not, or will not submit to the trainer, he is no good to the trainer.
Once a horse is fully trained, there is another, much smaller bit; and this small bit is used primarily for show. This bit is what horses wear during parades and exhibitions. This is called ‘straight up in the bit’. When you see the horses prancing and showing off with their trotting, they are bragging about being able to wear that small bit. They are saying, you just don’t know what I went through to get to wear this bit, so they toss their heads and step high with great pride, straight up in the bit!
All of this brought back something the Lord showed me once. This was many years before I heard this speaker. Father is timeless, and He takes as long as we need to teach us what He wants us to learn. He reminded me of this illustration. I saw myself as an untamed mustang in a corral with three ropes around my neck; there were three men, each holding an end of one of the three ropes. I was bucking, jumping and wrestling to be free.
The Lord seemed to be saying the horse thinks his freedom is over if he allows himself to be bridled and saddled. He resists with all of his energy because he doesn’t realize that once he surrenders, his freedom will be restored, only it will be under control.
Later, several weeks later, in fact, I saw the same mustang — bridle-less — saddle-less. There was a rider on his back. The rider had his fingers entwined in the horse’s mane and his knees were pressed against the horse’s sides. The horse was sensitive to the slight pressure of the knees to his sides and tugs on his mane and went with ease where ever the rider directed him.
So, what does all of this mean in our daily walk? I think, for myself, it was very hard to give up what I thought was freedom, but actually, I wasn’t free. There needed to be someone wiser than I who could see all of the things I did not see. Someone to bring me in line, take care of the overgrown areas of disfunction and heal my afflictions. Though I fought, I finally realized that the one I resisted the most, was in deed, the One who held the key to my future survival. He let me run until I was tired and gave out. He waited until I yelled, “What?!” Then He began to train me, with patience and love. I see the three men as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The lone rider, I see as the Holy Spirit. Now, I can stand straight up in the bit, but I know, if I go back to the old ways, the big bit is still there.