Last year in May and June here in Oklahoma we had a ridiculous amount of rain. I know every state says, “If you don’t like the weather just wait a minute” but in Oklahoma that saying is a reality. The rain last summer was no different for us.
I was working as a stable manager at a local riding academy at the time. My day was filled with horses and children experiencing God’s creation. It was also filled with rain, snow, ice, and in the summer months heat like only Oklahoma can bring. On the property we had several areas designated for certain horses for turn out. Wesley, Beau, and 6 other geldings were turned out in the farthest pasture which served also as the “outdoor” arena.This was across the creek and up a very steep hill, a full 7 acres away from the barn.
The creek runs about 4 or 5 inches deep at the crossing, at least that’s how deep it runs most of the time. All of the rain and run off from surrounding properties brought the water level up to a full three feet! On top of the depth was the rush of the water. I could no longer ride the 4 wheeler through it for fear of being washed down stream. I had turned the horses out early in the morning when the creek was running only about 6 or 7 inches deep.
But the rains came fast and hard! The water started rising quickly and the lightening was threatening to spook the horses and I was 7 acres away from them. I had no choice but to move as quickly as I could once the cloud burst loose with another down pour. I took the 4 wheeler to the creek bank gate and parked it there. I jumped into the rushing water and stumbled my way across the rocky creek bottom as fast as I could. I waded over and climbed the hill towards the horses still fenced in at the outdoor arena.
By the time I made it to the gate the horses were all crowding up to the gate to head for the safety of the barn. I got the gate open and even with my urging them to take it slowly down the hill half of them were at a full gallop. But not Wesley and not Beau. Wesley was in front of Beau and walking carefully to the hill. That’s when it happened!
With no provocation, no warning, and no reason, Beau reached over and bite Wesley right on the backside! After the initial shock and out burst passed Wesley gave way for Beau to pass and froze there in his tracks. The rain was pouring over us and the thunder and lightening was getting closer. I came to Wesley and coaxed him to the hill. He moved to the edge and refused to go down the steep grade. This is until I reached up and laid my hands and forearms along either side of his face. He was scared and I was on the edge of a steep hill back to the slope with his head in my hands. I had to take each step down that hill backward as I guided him down with my hands serving as his halter. One misstep and I would be in a very bad situation.
Then we reached the water’s edge. Again he came to a stand still. I knew I couldn’t lead him across stepping backwards and not be swept under. I turned and faced the water and looped my right arm around his neck like a lead rope. I took the first step and he did not! After a moment of comforting him. He literally laid his head on my shoulder and followed me across the rushing water.
He had done nothing wrong, he had not done any thing to Beau, but still he was attacked in the midst of a storm. How many of us have had the same thing happen to us? Life is rough enough and then out of nowhere we are hit by an attack. We already can’t pay the rent and the tire on the car blows, or we have been sick and down when a friend turns on us. Life is cruel! The truth is that life is just life, but Satan is cruel. He uses those we trust to try to bury us when we are down. He preys on the weak and worn. He hunts and attacks the soft point in our lives and there is nothing to stop the fear that floods in when he does.
Well almost nothing. Like Wesley we freeze under the fear and we lose all focus. We know where the barn is, we know how to get to safety, but we have been so decimated by the attack that we no longer trust our own feet to descend the slippery slope for fear of the raging water that waits below. Fear and its control is worse than the attack itself. The bite was rough but the water is rising, the rain is pouring, and the lightening is mere moments away. We MUST get to the barn! We Must get to the safety of the father’s arms.
1John 4:18 Shows us where fear comes from and more importantly what drives it out!
“18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
Like my hands guiding the sight and steps of that powerful horse, the Holy Spirit guides us to a peace in the midst of the storm. Like my arm around the neck of the biggest Palomino in the stables, the Comforter comes and walks through the raging sea with us! It took gentle and confident hands of love to bring home that horse, it will take the confident hands of a God who is Love to bring home our broken hearts and lives! We have a great love to guide, comfort, and restore us, no matter what is happening in our life. Life is great! the truth is life is just life, but God is love!
By the way, once the rain left and the creek went down, once the sun came out, Wesley was once again as strong and proud as ever. Jumping straights and competing for ribbons. He went from beaten and scared, to carrying his owner proudly across the arena and jumps as powerfully and majestically as ever. No matter what is causing your fear or where it is coming from there is one who can restore you to a glory you have yet to attain! You may be down now, but when we allow God to drive out the fear with His love, we stand tall again in the winner’s circle.