Skillful Weaving - A Testimony
Learning to Entwining the Message of Life into Everyday Work
Written in 2006
"That's not my real Mom! I just call her that. She's really my grandmother. My real mom can't afford to keep me and my real dad's in jail."
My heart ached as I listened to this chipper seven year old blurting out her family history in true childlike innocence.
Thoughtful and burdened, I assisted my student as we finished grooming the pony's coat until it glistened clean. Our lesson continued uneventful. Patricia* was sharp, attentive and quickly grasped the basics of horsemanship. It was a pleasure to watch her mount the horse with apparent ease and navigate him around the arena with confident pleasure. Teaching Patricia was a rewarding joy! Yet as our lessons progressed over the next year, I discovered that the Lord had sent Patricia to teach me a few lessons. I learned the importance of weaving the message of Life into my everyday work.
It did not take me long to realize that Patricia had been sent to me by the Lord. Her family was decidedly unreligious. Over horseback, Patricia liked to talk about what horror movies she had seen! She loved to be scared and she loved to tell me about it all! Soon I jokingly told her, "No more. I don't like scary movies!" She persisted, but I closed my ears. No, Patricia's home life was not founded on wholesome Godly principles. It was infectious to my desire to share Christ with her.
But I was chicken. I loved the Lord. He seemed to become so real to me in the past few years. Several of my riding students were from homes with at least a semblance of Christianity. But to share Christ with a child from an unchristian home—I told myself that I was "unqualified" and "too young." "This is horseback riding lessons, not Sunday School." I was afraid of appearing to "woe" Patricia into some strange cult. I had been around enough Christians who shared the Gospel as Pepto Bismal—distasteful and a bubble gum hue. I did not want to make the same mistake. The Lord was calling me to "step it up" but I was busy creating excuses.
Sometime, somewhere God related that this was His chance to reach Patricia. The idea of the little girl being eternally lost became a reality to me. He had chosen me for this time, at this place, on the back of horses, to share His message. I could no longer resist His call.
God gave me the simple idea of sharing Bible stories with Patricia. As we saddled up Tobie, my tubby lesson pony, or when we took a break between riding instructions, I asked her if she wanted to hear a story. Enthused, she nodded, "As long as they are scary!" I did my best making The Flood seem real and frightening. David and Goliath did little to daunt her. Daniel in the Lion's Den was a winner. Patricia would ask for more and more. Sometimes it seemed as Tobie was swallowed by the great Whale and Jonah—we both became so engrossed. As our lessons progressed, I asked Patricia to tell me a Bible story! She remembered many details and at forgetful bobbles, I would prompt the rest of the story.
Patricia would return excited and run to tell her "Mom" about the new Bible story I told her. I was always a little apprehensive about "how will 'Mom' take this?" Being respectful of a parent or a grandparent's position was a foremost thought. I did not want to mar this opportunity of ministry by taking a false step. Yet, "Mom" always listened and showed delight in her granddaughter's pleasure. The Bible stories continued.
Patricia had shown herself interested in goodness. When she talked about bad conduct at school, we would discuss why it was not acceptable. She soon began to comprehend, "God doesn't want us to act that way." In her childish way, she began to comprehend that God was for sound morals and to be without those morals was not a good thing.
Though I had learned to weave a Bible story or a Christian character teaching in our horse lessons, I still had not talked much about Christ. We had been riding for months now. The soil seemed prepared. It was time.
Sharing Christ with a child can be difficult. You want to make Him personal. Someone they can reach out and touch. I was sober in this task, so fearful of my own fumbling, all thumbs inadequacy. I had a healthy fear of muffing the beautiful Salvation story.
Patricia did learn of Christ's death for our sins that day. How He died and rose again that we could live with Him eternally. What I said, I cannot remember. Yet, Patricia was sober and quiet. The seeds had been planted. Did Patricia come to know Christ that day? I do not know. She told me she was a Christian. How wonderful I delighted with her! Could I read her heart? No, only God could. But someone had to plant those seeds of Truth in her heart. I continue to pray that one day God will reap the harvest. God had not assigned Patricia to a trained minister, a Sunday school teacher, a program ministry, but a "sparrow" among people. It was enough for Him that His Message be simply shared across the backs of horses, out in the pasture among the grasshoppers, under the sharp thorns of a Bois 'D arc tree, picking out the manure in horse hooves. He had met Patricia where she was, where she was interested and in terms she could understand.
The Christmas season came. As form of outreach and thanksgiving, I gave a gift to my students that will teach them of the Bible. This year I had found an attractive, hard bound children's Bible, illustrated with fascinating images of Bible figures.
Every child rips through a wrapped gift--Patricia was no exception! With swift force, the paper was soon on the ground and she was thumbing through her new book. I told her that a lot of the Bible stories we had rehearsed were in that book. Smiling, she told me a neighbor had given her a "Holly... no, Holy Bible." A breeze of relief swept over me as I knew that someone else had a burden for this girl. God was looking out for her.
That was the last time Patricia came out for lessons. Holidays, bad weather and family changes kept her away from continuing riding. I called several times to get her to come out for just a visit but to no avail. The answer was the same, "Can't come."
Through Patricia, I was taught a priceless lesson. God had taught me some important principles in weaving my work into His purpose for my life, NOT integrating God into my life purpose or my comfort zone. I learned that being young, inexperienced and communicatively clumsy was no drawback to God. He overlooked my deficiencies and saw my willing, but feeble heart. Patricia, a girl desperately hungry for the love of a Savior, was sent to ride horses to hear of Christ. I was strategically chosen by God Himself to relate what He wanted this stray lamb to know.
For fellow Christians, I pray that you will be inspired in your calling. To be chosen of God to share with others is a high calling. One-on-one is often the most effective. It is quiet, and no bells peeling.
Please learn to skillfully weave. Learn to weave your work into God's work.
I still pray for Patricia. Please join me and pray for others, who like Patricia, need Jesus Christ.
*Name changed for privacy