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chasing horses

We live in the country.

We have 4 dogs, 2 cats, and our neighbors are cows.

I mean that in the nicest of ways. We live partially surrounded by a large dairy farm that features black and white, polka-dotted, classic cows. 

Here in our quiet county, there are no leash laws (I think). Somehow, dogs know their boundaries--this fence line, that dirt road, this dry creek bed...they stay, play, and live well within the safety of our few acres.

Except when our other neighbor's horses come near.  Then, our pups wander. Not far mind you, but they cross under the wire and bark and chase and run around...and one of these days they are going to get the wind kicked out of them...

Chasing horses. Our dogs just can't seem to resist wandering when horses come into view.

So I've been thinking of how easily we all wander in the presence of that one thing. What is it? What horse are we compelled to get near, see up close? What activity invites us to step across lines of safety and take a risk for the...the what? Perhaps the thrill, the experience, the story, the rush.

Chasing horses.

As a Atheist, I (obviously) didn't grow up with fond memories of singing hymns. But of late, I've been acquainting myself with a collection from an older book by Jerry Jenkins. Alongside of some of the hymns, Jenkins comments on the author. Today I read "Come, Thou Fount" by Robert Robinson. 

The lyrics are stirring:

let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee

prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love

Here's my heart, O take and seal it; seal it for Thy courts above

Prone to wander...God, I feel it.

Jenkins notes that Robinson committed his life to Jesus from a "life of sin." He wrote the hymn, entered the ministry, was a preacher...and then "lapsed into sin again."(page 78)

Online I learned that Robinson wrote Come, Thou Fount at the age of 23, later become known as a respected thinker, and toward the end of his life, several sources cite the following story:

There is a well-known story of Robinson, riding a stagecoach with a lady who was deeply engrossed in a hymnbook. Seeking to encourage him, she asked him what he thought of the hymn she was humming. Robinson burst into tears and said, "Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then."

Robinson seems to have mourned what he lost through his wanderings. From what little I could find, the horses he chased were theological. 

Which brings me back home.

My dogs can't seem to resist wandering when the horses come by. But we can.

I'm not trying to be mystical, but we must allow the Holy Spirit to mentor our minds.

I love thinking, processing...like most, I enjoy wrestling with issues and thorny theological subjects...But sometimes I bump up against a fence post and I sense the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit saying, "let it rest now. For the moment, no farther." And I have a choice to make.

Will I press past that invisible barrier in the name of intellectual integrity simply because I can? Or will I pause, and trust the mentoring of the Spirit whose entire purpose is to lead me in truth?

Sometimes--especially in academic environments where it can sometimes seem as though if you CAN think about an issue, then you MUST think about an issue--I have pressed past that whisper and entered territory that God knew well but I was unprepared to navigate.

Age has, hopefully, brought wisdom and the realization that mental strength is more than the ability to think, it's also the ability to choose what to think and when to think.

Horses we want to chase today, may be easily ridden in years to come. When we ride them prematurely, odds are we're going to get the wind kicked out of us.

let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee

 

Comments

Alicia...

Chasing horses; getting the "wind knocked" out of us in the process. That will preach, friend. In fact, my husband used this very hymn as an illustration during Sunday's sermon.

Who of us hasn't known the pull... "let thy goodness like a fetter bind my wandering heart to thee"?

By nature, we are wanderers; I'm quite adept at the roaming. Only a heart whose known the pull of a backward glance can write from such a place of understanding. Robinson's words are rich with theology and truth and minister to the deep places in me during my "proning" (is that a word?).

Thanks for this. One of your best.

peace~elaine

Elaine,

Thank you friend. I know that you read and write with honest thoughtfulness--thank you for the encouragement today.

alicia

Great article Alicia. This really hit me today. I am praying for my wondering friend who has wondered out side of the gate. Praying that he will know there is a safe place for him come and find healing and rest.

Great piece! You don't know how timely this is for me personally. I found God and Christ in April of this year and find myself "wandering" a bit this past week or so and having doubts. Your thoughts, I feel, will help shore up my maturing faith and keep me on the path of belief and trust.

Thank you very much!

Aero, thanks so much for taking the time to read...and reply! Doubts certainly don't make God nervous. But like the proverbial butterfly in the cocoon, we can't rush their resolution...

Peace to you,

alicia

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Tonight I'm joining my prayers with yours for your wandering friend. May he hear and heed the voice of the Good Shepherd.

Thank you for your post. After spending time studying at Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas, I realized that there were just so many things that I would not be able to comprehend at that time or be able to explain. Now, as a pastor, I find myself in the same situation. Thank you for a succinct, timely reason to be still and not go chasing after those horses!

Thank you Joseph. Which years were you at CFNI? (We just returned from Dallas where our kids participated in KFN.)

My husband and I were at Christ for the Nations from 78-80.

Alicia,
i "chased horses" for a number of years, in the Sierras of California, as a wandering poet. The poetry ended up self-centered, (narcissistic!), and a hedonistic indulging in independence. I got off track (to say it mildly). I discovered that following Jesus requires the whole heart, a daily laying down of all that I am and hope to be upon the altar of his cross.
In his great mercy, he broke me; what I sought in wandering as a poet, I found in worship-
ing my God. I discovered that genuine worship is risky---it is edgy, in the sense that I'm putting everything on the line for the sake of loving and knowing my Lord.

My lab, Sonny, has twice touched noses with neighboring horses. For him, the key to this treat was remaining on my leash---for now (he's eight months old)---and sitting up, as the horse(s) reached over the fence and Sonny stretched to touch the huge, fellow creature(s).

Bob Abplanalp

Thanks for taking the time to post, Bob. And for the wisdom-rich picture of your lab...

alicia

Thank you, Alicia, for this beautiful post. Such a great last line.

Thank you for taking the time to read Mark.

These are really good thoughts and I've been processing for a few days now. I read the blog aloud to a room of young women at a community house. We had been sharing about our journeys and the horses that we are tempted to chase, even by speeding up God's process in our life's journey. This blog was very timely - very profound.

You can learn a lot by watching someone who can ride a horse well.

I have a friend who is brilliant and wise mental horseman: he has paced his processing over the years and I've had the opportunity to observe his choices. A decade ago when he turned 50, I asked him how he felt about this moment in his life and he replied, "I think I just now may be ready to start making a contribution."

Amazing. In my eyes, he had already accomplished so much. But he had the discipline to not exhausted his mental and spiritual strength chasing horses. Consequently, his head and heart were strong and still fresh for the road ahead.

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About
alicia britt chole is a thought-provoking speaker, seasoned mentor, and reflective author of several books including Anonymous and Finding an Unseen God.


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