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The Trouble with Horses…


I don’t like horses.

Now, I’ve nothing against them personally, for I can’t say I’ve ever really got to know one. And they are, without doubt beautiful beasts, and have served mankind well for many centuries. No, my prejudice against horses is purely subjective and experience based. Let me explain.

A number of years ago I was on a family weekend at Annalong, in County Down. Someone had devised a programme to fill the gaps between meetings. We had long walks in the beautiful Mourne Mountains, we had drives by the sea and visits to different towns, and evenings in Newcastle. On the Saturday afternoon, we had a Pony Trek.

We arrived at the pony trekking stable at Castlewellan, and were given a horse each. Mine, for some reason, was the biggest and most restless horse I’d ever seen. His name was Goldie, and he had a mind of his own. One of his owners explained to me how to make him start and stop, go left and right and so on, – the problem was that no-one explained it to Goldie. He had a mind of his own! Once I was safely saddled and ready to go, Goldie just trotted off on his own. ‘Don’t worry,’ said one of the stable men, ‘Goldie’s the lead horse, he knows where he’s going’.

He did! He crossed the road and into the forest and wandered happily along the forest paths. All went well, until one of the stable owners decided that we were running a bit behind time. That’s when it all went downhill. From behind I heard a broad voice calling out, “Get away a that wi’ ye, Goldie.” Loosely translated, he was inviting Goldie to make up some lost time. Anyway, Goldie understood all right. He took off along the path at a gallop. All I could see was branches overhead threatening to push me off the saddle, and I’m told my screams could be heard throughout the forest, as I tried to get Goldie to slow down. All my efforts to rein him in were to no avail, and he kept up the pace till we reached the gate opposite the stable again.

There was still an obstacle, for Goldie didn’t seem to understand the Highway Code. Despite my attempts to get him to stop at the side of the road, he trotted happily across the traffic, bringing a passing mini to an emergency stop. I shouted a panicked apology to the lady driver, and tried to explain that the horse was totally out of control. Never was I so glad to get off a horse! Of course, my fellow trekkers thought this was all a great laugh, and many a pun was coined later that evening around the fireside.

The Apostle James used the concept of controlling a horse as an illustration in his epistle. He wrote, in James 3:3 Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.

Okay, so that didn’t quite work for me, but I’m bound to concede the principle. A tiny little piece of metal, in the hands of real horseman, can control a huge animal like Goldie. James links this with how we use our tongues, and of course, the words that those tongues frame. A small organ like the tongue, when out of control and unbridled, can cause immense harm, and ruin our character, our testimony and our reputation. If you speak a lie, it won’t be long before you find yourself living a lie. If you speak suggestively in an immoral manner, it won’t be long before you begin acting immorally! The power of the tongue to direct is easily applied to the dangers of teaching… The preacher’s speech can easily set the mood a congregation

James writes in chapter 3:

6 The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.
7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind,
8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.
10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.

So we should be careful when we speak. May David’s prayer be our own: Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

From → Encouragement

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