Horses are one of the most beautiful and powerful of God’s creatures. Left to run wild, a horse is a ferocious and potentially dangerous creature. But once it is trained — and under the bit and bridle of its master — a horse can perform amazing feats of strength and skill, and is one of the gentlest creatures on earth.
You and I are a lot like that, aren’t we? We need God to temper us and to lead us. As the 23rd Psalm says, “He leads me beside still waters.”
Without His leading, how lost we would be.
It’s especially important to have God’s leading when we go through difficult times. In the dark days, we as Christians must strive to be tuned in to the voice of the Lord. When we hear His voice then we must submit to His leading.
The Lord showed me an illustration of this during a difficult transition in my life when He called me out of the ministry for a time.
For nearly five years I had traveled with a Christian rock band called Insight. The Lord had blessed us as thousands of young people committed their lives to Christ through our ministry.
In my prayer time the Lord began telling me that I had completed the work He wanted me to do with the band and He had other plans for my life.
I felt like Abraham when the Lord called him out of Ur of the Chaldees. The Lord promised to lead me, but He didn’t tell me where I was going.
It was difficult for many to understand why the Lord would take me out of a fruit-bearing field and put me into the wilderness. But as I read the Bible I discovered that this is His pattern for training His people.
Jesus was tempted in the desert. Paul, Moses, John the Baptist, and others spent years in the wilderness learning to hear and trust God. If I was to be a servant of Jesus Christ, I would have my desert experiences as well.
I spent a grueling year seeking the Lord’s direction for my life. During this time I worked a construction job. While I enjoy working with my hands, doing it as a full-time job was not what I wanted in life. Looking back now, however, I can see the good things that God did in me during that dry time.
One day as I worked in the hot, dirty attic of a 100-year-old home I cried out to the Lord. “God, have you brought me out to the desert to kill me? I am engaged to be married and I don’t even have a real job. I left college after three years to manage the ministry. Now you tell me to leave the band, but you don’t tell me where to go.”
Suddenly I saw a picture in my Spirit. The Lord reminded me of the days when I would go horseback riding with my friends in college. We would ride over the grassy hills of the Allegheny Mountains in Pennsylvania, feeling the exhilaration of those mighty creatures moving at our command.
God designed horses to run. A horse would run all the time if it could. What a wonderful thing it was to experience a part of the joy that this majestic animal felt as he galloped over the rolling hills.
The Lord reminded me of how we used to take the horses into the woods. “Be careful,” my experienced friend would caution. “Hold very tightly to the reins as we pass through the trees. There are fallen logs and moss-covered rocks that the horse could slip on if you don’t take it slow.”
If a horse is injured in the woods it is almost impossible to save it from destruction.
I remembered how my arms would become strained pulling back on the reins, trying to keep that beautiful beast from going any faster than a slow walk. The struggle became much more intense as we approached the edge of the thicket. The horse sensed that the clearing was near and it became increasingly difficult to keep him from running. It took all of my might to hold those reins tight.
As we emerged onto the meadow, without any prodding the horse took off in a full speed gallop.
“You are like that horse,” the Lord spoke gently to my heart. “I designed you with My power to run. Right now, however, you are going through a season where I am guiding you through the woods. I am holding tight to your reins so that you won’t slip on a moss-covered rock or trip over a fallen log.”
The Master knew the destination of my life. He knew that soon I too would emerge onto that spiritual meadow where I would be allowed to run free in the calling that He had for me.
The devil would have liked nothing more than to see me stumble and fall in the woods. He loves to see us run out ahead of God’s timing and fall under the weight of our own zeal. There are those who have fallen that the enemy has tried to utterly destroy.
“For now my child,” the Father said to me, “rest and allow Me to guide you through this delicate time. Do not resist My direction but flow with it and you will be safe.”
Jesus said in John 10:27, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow me.” He is always speaking to us, always leading our steps. Once we learn to hear His voice we must cooperate with His plan and His timing.
Hearing God’s voice is especially critical in times of emotional upheaval, temptation, or when making a big decision.
The good news is that, “The steps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way” (Ps. 37:23). We can expect the leading of the Lord in our lives!
There were times of discouragement in that season and since, but the illustration of the harness of the Holy Spirit has come back to comfort me again and again as I follow the Lord.
How good God is that He leads us through all the seasons of life with a firm but gentle hand. “He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name sake,” Psalm 23 goes on to say.
He knows when to let us run free and when to hold us back. As we listen for His voice and seek to do the will of the Lord let us remember that our Father in Heaven knows what is best for us — even when we can’t see it.
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