Saturday, January 12, 2008

Out of Focus -- Hope Chronicles 10

I have found over the years that learning something new is good for me. In 2001, I took my first horseback riding lesson. I don't know what I was thinking. I believe I had been on a horse twice. Both of those times I was walked around while on the horse. It wasn't really riding. But in July 2001, I showed up at the stables in a nearby town and they put me on a horse named Streak. Apparently, at one point, he had been quite the horse and won all kinds of awards. Now, he was a dutiful lesson horse and the instructor taught me how to walk and sit and groom.

At that point I was hooked. The next time I came, I was put on another lesson horse, Eddie. Eddie was probably the largest horse in the stable. He had an insatiable appetite. At one end of the indoor arena, they kept hay above our heads. When Eddie went by, he often had the tenacity to stop and have a snack. He could reach it if he craned his neck up. They called it Eddie's drive through. I quickly learned that I had to have Eddie's full attention and a certain amount of momentum when we were near that hay to keep him from stopping! Eddie, however, quickly became my favorite. The picture is of me and Eddie. Can you tell how big he is?

By April 2002 I was learning to jump. You start out trotting over poles on the ground and then they get raised. Eventually I jumped 18 inch to 2 foot jumps even in a series of 8-10 jumps. It was so like flying!

I confess that I initially thought jumping was all about the horse and that I was just along for the ride. Nothing could be further from the truth! Just as dogs are pack animals, horses are herd animals. As long as the rider has established herself as the leader, they take their cues from the rider. I was amazed to find out that Eddie could tell where I was looking. Did you catch that? I'm on top of him and he can tell where I am looking? I imagined it as if sitting a string ran from my backbone to his. When I looked a certain way, that is (unless being particularly unruly) the way he would go. When I turned my head, my shoulders turned as well. My body position changed and, my best guess, is that is what clued him in.

Back to jumping. Initially, I did think that I was only along for the ride. While he trotted willingly over the poles on the ground, I found that he often came to a dead stop even with poles 6 inches to a foot off the ground. Unfortunately, this had "hard" results for me. At least twice, I went on over the jump without Eddie!

The lesson learned - always look where you are going. When riding to a jump, look up and over it and onto the next one and past that one . . . . When I looked down at the jump, he didn't nowhere to go. Being rather old and disinclined to work, he was more than happy to stop until I figured it out!

In the animal kingdom, there are a few means of protection. One is camouflage. If a predator can't see you, he can't eat you. Then there is fight. This one is typically the last resort for most animals. And there is flight. Horses are flight animals. They spook easily. In herds, there is always a lookout. They run if frightened.

This also played into the jumping. Eddie could tell if I was nervous or scared. Remember the string? My nervousness usually played out all over my body. When we came to a jump and I seemed unsure, Eddie decided (though he had jumped higher millions of times) that he wasn't sure either. So, stopping and looking at the scary jump (that he could merely step over) made more sense than attempting it!

Look where you are going. Ride the next two jumps and not just the one in front of you.

I think this is biblical as well. I believe it is what Jesus did when He went to the cross. The Bible teaches us that Jesus died willingly for us. He chose to do it. But it also tells us that in garden the night He was arrested, He prayed that God would take this cup from Him. He felt enough anxiety about it that his sweat was like blood. Luke 22:44 says, "And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground." I read once that this means that he was feeling enough anxiety, anguish, that the stress caused the capillaries in his body to begin to break.

So, what kept Him from fleeing when He knew what was coming? Hebrews 12:2 says, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." What is the joy set before Him? I think it is a couple of things. First, it was being reunited with His Heavenly Father. Second, it was looking down through time at me and you. We are the joy set before Him.

This week has been a rough one. I confess that I have been looking at the jumps and not past them. Sigh. There are so many hurdles: things at work, finances, relationships, loneliness . . . . I did okay Monday and Tuesday, but by Wed. I was falling apart. At one point at work, something came up that I had done to the best of my knowledge. (We'll just say, my knowledge wasn't good enough.) I ended up in tears. I've been working on my eating habits. One week of watching it and eating more fruits and vegetables (up to 4 servings in a day), helped me lose 3.5lbs in a week. This week, I did the same and lost less than a pound. I was clearly anticipating another 3.5! Not so. I had a conflict with a friend. My thoughts have turned repeatedly to things I don't have but deeply long for rather than to being thankful for what I do have. Add to that, the woman's monthly cycle. (I confess to as a teen and in my twenties thinking it was all in everyone's head because it didn't bother me. Then I hit 30 and now I'm only a year shy of 40 . . . . Well, it is NOT all in the head! I'm at those couple of days of I-know-it's-coming-just-get-it-over-with!)

So, it has not been a good few days. Perhaps those things would have bothered me some anyway. But, I know that took my eyes off of Jesus. I looked at the jumps instead of at the prize. I looked at the jumps instead of my hope.

But today is a new day. I can regroup. I can refocus. I can fix my eyes on Jesus.


Jill said...


This is good perspective.


mark savage said...

Hi Amy, I like your perspective. How incredible is God that He gives us the ability and the strength to see beyond the challenge.

The key is disciplining ourselves to live his way 24/7.