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Posted by on in Horses in Ministry
On Chastening

Today, my old suspicion has been reaffirmed: an undisciplined horse is just as dangerous than a completely wild one.

It didn't help that the horse in question was well over sixteen hands high, a fiery young filly with plenty of blood. As beautiful as breaking dawn, the filly moved like moonlight on ocean waves; with effortless, rippling grace. She also knew exactly how strong she was, and exactly how small a human was in comparison to her power.

I followed my trainer, the inestimable Horse Mutterer, to her paddock expecting an absolute rebel, judging by the owner's description of her behaviour: she was aggressive and pushy, panicked in the stable, and had a nasty habit of rearing up and flipping over. The filly put up her ears when she heard us coming and cantered over, bright-eyed, friendly, and I began to think perhaps the owner was exaggerating. But she just didn't stop. She thudded to a halt only when her chest hit the top bar of the fence and I took a surprised step back as she nearly headbutted me with a head about the same size as my whole torso. Whereupon the owner diagnosed her own horse's problem in one sentence along the lines of: “She's so nice most of the time.”

We got more background information as the filly was led to the round pen, carefully studying every move made by both groom and horse. The filly had been orphaned at only a few days old; by a gargantuan and most laudable effort, the owner had successfully raised her to a large, strong and healthy young horse. Obviously, the owner cared deeply about this filly. Raising an orphan is no mean feat, but somewhere along the line pity had crept in and discipline had promptly signed out.

Now, the sweet orphan baby had turned into a menace. At first, as the Mutterer lunged her, she seemed just fine; content to trot around the pen for a few laps. Then, bored of this, she came to a halt. The Mutterer moved to encourage her on and she swung around, took careful aim and double-barrelled, both hind hooves flashing out in one deadly movement. Being the Mutterer, he had seen it coming a mile away and the kick failed to connect. But with that kind of vicious, head-height kick, you would be lucky to get away with broken ribs or a shattered face.

The filly was a typical spoiled brat; obviously adored by her owner (or else the owner wouldn't have looked for help when she needed it), but in complete, manipulative control of everyone around her. What had gone wrong? It was evident that she was well loved and well cared for, never roughly handled, yet still she was dangerous. The answer was simple: she needed to be taught respect. She needed to be disciplined – to be chastened.

Most well-behaved horses, mine included, have felt the nasty end of a dressage whip in their lives, with the result that they have a healthy respect for everyone around them. How, I hear you ask, could a good horseman possibly bring themselves to lay a lash upon the horses if they love them? Because they love them. They chasten them because they care about them. For the same reason as the Lord chastens all of us.

Yes, sometimes we can all be just as bratty as that big filly. We can be opinionated and stubborn, demanding our own way and throwing squealing, bucking temper tantrums when it doesn't happen. Sometimes we're so set on what we want that we nearly kill ourselves trying to get it. Other times we don't care who we're hurting, or how badly we're hurting them, as long as we don't have to do what we don't want to. We've all been selfish and spiteful in our lives; ever since the fall of Adam it has been a part of us that we will have to learn to let go of. And God knows that to learn this, we have to be chastened. Just as a loving father reprimands his child, our loving God reprimands His children.

So next time His righteous anger is upon us and He disciplines us with the consequences of our selfish actions, let us not be disheartened or resentful. Let us accept the chastening, repent and ask forgiveness, for He is a generous and loving God Who is quick to forgive. Then let us thank Him for His amazing love and try again, and do it better. If we are being chastened, let us know that this is a sign that He truly loves us. For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth (Hebrews 12:6).

Glory to the King.

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