Friday, December 15, 2017
Trust for the Trail
I focused on the path in front of us and kept my seat centered as my horse Nocona and I rode along the narrow trail. The steep mountainside rose above us, and Nocona’s hooves ambled inches from the plummeting precipice falling away. As his hoof sunk into a soft part of the trail, the distinctive click of a loosed pebble made my heart skip a beat as the stone bounced off the side, sailing off into space.
Trust. I was grateful for the many hours spent hanging out with my horse. That bond of trust and love developed over time, throughout the years. We ride trails like these only because of that friendship and bond. I know his character and he knows mine.
Building the Relationship
It started out small. When Nocona was a colt, our first encounter involved putting a halter and lead rope on him—he’d never seen either. This was a must as I needed to load him in the trailer to take him to the ranch. On a hot, humid Texas morning, I watched him as he stared wide-eyed at me. Sweat trickled down my face as I spoke softly to him. His ears flicked, and he slowly dropped his head and relaxed. Our relationship began.
Trust is synonymous with relationship. You can’t truly trust someone you don’t know. I had spent years as a Christian, but not fully trusting the One I claimed allegiance to. When adverse circumstances ambushed me, I realized the hard way that my relationship with Jesus was sorely in need of maintenance. I found myself floundering, my foot searching for the solidness of the Rock. (Matthew 7:24-25)
In desperation, I looked for Him. He was already watching me. In that ever-so-loving still, small voice, His Holy Spirit prompted me to start at square two (I was already firmly planted on square one, having accepted Jesus as my Savior). He gently guided me to read Jesus’ words, written in red. As I studied every word, an amazing picture formed—God’s strong, open arms in unconditional love. As I read about His kind, solid character, I relaxed. And a real relationship began. I found a personal God who loves us all dearly and wants to take us to heights we have never known—heights that may make our heart pound, but have beautiful, breathtaking views.
A Love That Longs for Trust
In the beginning Nocona was a feisty one, but I never gave up. I slipped my hand around his neck and slid the halter over his nose, around his ears, and buckled it. It was a foreign concept to him, and he bolted. I stayed with him, letting him test the lead rope, all the while continuing to speak softly to him, reassuring him that all was well and I would not hurt him. We continued building on our relationship from that solid foundation. (Proverbs 3:5)
I suppose some schools of thought would have suggested I lasso him and then “show him who’s boss.” But what good would that have done? I would have created a relationship where he only obeyed me because he had to, or worse yet, feared me. It would have been a life of slavery for him and a chore for me.
Many times the Holy Spirit revealed His wisdom, but because it was foreign to me, I bolted. But He stuck with me, eventually earning my trust and moving me further toward my destiny in Him. (Psalm 73:28—But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God that I may declare all Your works.)
The Acid Test
Life can be a trail of unknowns. The acid test of our trust is what we do when confronted with one of life’s unforeseen surprises. Fear of the unknown (the “what ifs”) can easily keep us from fully enjoying life. Courage is required to take the leap of faith, believing God’s Word is truth.
While riding the trail, scary things tend to “jump out” of the bushes: A rattlesnake angrily buzzed his tail, warning us that we were in his self-proclaimed territory; A mountain lion dashed across the road ahead, chasing a herd of deer. Nocona stood his ground and just flicked an ear, all the while listening for my instruction.
In this fast-paced, don’t-have-time-to-breathe society, listening has become an antiquity. But it’s a must to develop that solid trust. In life, circumstances will shoot out of nowhere, putting us in a position of decision. Do we run? faint in fear? or stand our ground on that solid relationship we meticulously built in the peaceful times? We might “flick an ear” at the scary thing, but immediately flick it back toward the One with the instruction on what we need to do with that thing. (Proverbs 1:33—“But whoever listens to Me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”)
Trust That Continues to Strengthen
As with any relationship, there is constant adjustment and tuning-up. Though it is built on a solid foundation, maintenance will always be an ongoing process. Even the apostle Paul was in constant growth and learning: Philippians 3:12—“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”
Just like Paul, I haven’t “arrived” yet. I’ve learned my relationship with the Lord requires forward motion. There are always new things to learn about myself and Him, along with old things maybe I’ve forgotten and need to remember again. I’ve come to realize that a trust-building relationship is a step-by-step, day-by-day process. But it’s an exciting one. It’s a process full of adventure, offering hope as I discover the depth of God’s character and His love. (Jeremiah 29:11-13)