the art of trusting

           There are so many times in my past where I have started something, worked hard, given much, and let go. I find myself still asking why did you give up? Or better yet, why did you even start, only to stop and welcome failure after all the effort and hard work?
As a young girl learning to ride a horse taught me this very concept, which would resurface many times in my future and leave me asking the same questions once again. From the smallest details to the largest decisions, through horse-back-riding, God forced me to deal with this issue of my heart which would affect my every day life. And to no surprise, it still does. 
When you ride a horse, you don`t just hop on and have fun. Though somedays it can feel like merely that, jumping on, laughing, and enjoying. Fun doesn`t come without hours of patient, waiting, and hard work. Riding a horse starts with the basics. Getting to know your own weaknesses and difficulties, so you can aim at overcoming them, WITH you horse. Then getting to know your horses weakness and difficulties, so you can train him to overcome them, WITH you. Nothing happens apart from the commitment that you have both made to each other. The moment there is anything in between, the road gets rough, the future cloudy, and the thought of giving up comes into mind often. 

The moment you are afraid he won`t do what you have taught him, or what he has proven through the past. The moment he is afraid he can`t perform the way you expect him to or compete against his competitors which stand aside him like giants. 

But then you slowly learn each others gifts, abilities, and talents. You slowly see them peaking out through the pain and exhaustion of the weariness of practice. The work brings beauty and you begin to desire to see each other perform better and build on the strengths you do possess, even the ones buried deep beneath times of failure.

When my Grandaddy bought me my first horse he let me go and said, "Les, I am givin` you this horse. You have to teach him, guide him, encourage him, help him, and he will also give himself to you." Grandaddy had a way with horses that never ceased to amaze me. Sometimes I thought he was much to harsh with them, later did I realize they need discipline, just like I do. Sometimes I thought he was too easy, giving too much freedom, later did I realize with confidence and trust comes the freedom to perform with enjoyment and fun, without worries and fears
Training Buckshot was the hardest thing I have had to do in my life up to this point. There was no rhyme or reason, no level of perfection or complete failure. He was a complete mystery to me. Somedays we could run through the fields without a care in the world. Other days we had to grit and grind to keep from killing each other (literally). But at the end of the day, we had each other`s trust. And that trust was what we fought to keep, fought to enjoy, every single day that we were together.
When we started out, I had no expectations. I didn`t know him. I didn`t know his capabilities, his gifts, his talents, nor his fears, his weaknesses, his difficulties. So we practiced. We started small, 20-30 minutes a day. As time passed of teaching each other, we worked more often, longer hours. I began to know his limits and see when he needed to rest or when he needed to be pushed. But I didn`t always do it right. I often pushed him too hard, or lest him rest too much, and would slowly learn from seeing his response. He also did the same with me. Wondering how hard he could push me before he would get in trouble, or how gently he could nudge until he would find that huge carrot stuck in my back pocket. He was smart. But he didn`t always treat me right. He slowly learned how to push, or not push, my buttons in order for a big hug or a juice apple. 
And so with a horse the story goes, as you practice more and more, harder and harder, without giving up...the practice pays off. It pays off through trust. Once the rider believes that trust is enough, sufficient to hold up under the stress of competing and showing, she enrolls them in a small show. She sacrifices financially, with her time, and one could even say physically and emotionally, trusting that they will be okay. And once a small, easy show, becomes bigger, harder shows. And as they compete the practice paying off grows and grows. There is an increase in trust they couldn`t imagine. It is financial blessings, growing friendships with the people met along the way, personal confidence in succeeding. But there are still those shows where the mess up, fall down, come in last place. And it only motivates them to practice more, harder still. And in the end you could throw that rider on any horse, or any little child on that horse, and they are confident. But they will both still have their days. That is why practicing never ends. That is why the art of riding can never be perfected. That is why expectations always have to be willing to flex.
It doesn`t matter whether you ride horses, play sports, are a musician, a parent, or other arts of life. You can see the direct correlation between these mundane activities of life and the soul activity of knowing God and making him known. No athlete can walk into a final match without hours of grueling work and practice. No musician can show up to a symphony without having worked hours, days, years to prepare for what she will present to thousands watching. 
Lord, I ask you to help me apply this imperfect analogy of riding horses to the process of knowing you and making you known to others. I want to work hard and practice often so that I can trust you fully and rely on your words and promises to me. I want to stop expecting perfection and this idealized relationship that I will never attain. I want to desire you so much that I can truly have joy and peace in experiencing your friendship, pursing, and commitment to me. And yet I know, like a rider won`t really ride until she passes the judgment of a show, like a dating couple won`t really prove their love until the hardest times in their marriage, like a musician won`t prover her expertise until she`s supported by fans, neither will I ever past the until I learn to wait and be still before you, trusting. Trusting that you will give me a passing score, the strength to carry on through a struggling marriage, the fans to encourage me to keep on practicing. 
Just like Buckshot and I had to work together and trust together, so I must with you. So I must be willing to apologize and confess when I have wronged you. So I must be willing to give up my schedule and time to hear your desires for my life and plans. So I must wait, when I don`t feel like you are trustworthy or good, when I don`t feel like you are here or faithful. So I must wait, and believe, and with that belief, my trust will return. As it always has. I trust it will again. In time. In time of waiting.

“I trust in your word” (Ps. 119:42).
"In proportion in which we believe that God will do just what He has said, is our faith strong or weak. Faith has nothing to do with feelings, or with impressions, with improbabilities, or with outward appearances. If we desire to couple them with faith, then we are no longer resting on the Word of God because faith needs nothing of the kind. Faith rests on the naked Word of God. When we take Him at His Word, the heart is at peace.
God delights to exercise faith, first for blessing in our own souls, then for blessing in the Church at large, and also for those without. But this exercise we shrink from instead of welcoming. When trials come, we should say: “He puts this cup of trial into my hands, that I may have something sweet afterwards.”
Trials are the food of faith. Oh, let us leave ourselves in the hands of our Heavenly Father! It is the joy of His heart to do good to all His children.
But trials and difficulties are not the only means by which faith is exercised and thereby increased. There is the reading of the Scriptures, that we may by them acquaint ourselves with God as He has revealed Himself in His Word.
Are you able to say, from the acquaintance you have made with God, that He is lovely? If not, let me affectionately entreat you to ask God to bring you to this, that you may admire His gentleness and kindness, that you may be able to say how good He is, and what a delight it is to the heart of God to do good to His children."
Lord I ask you, bring me to this place, of absolutely loving and enjoying everything about you. Instead  of picking apart all the things I think you are doing wrong through not providing, not feeling real, not comforting. Help me realize that you are. That you are working those things for my good, but I am not seeing them, because of the blindness of my sinful pride. Lord bring me to a place of resting on the naked Words of God. Where when I question you, I also hear you. Where I stop crying out for the things you have already given me rest in. 
This life is so much harder as a Christian. This life is so much harder with you. Because it requires that I cannot give up, that I cannot bend, move, or break to the things of this empty, dying world. It requires that I truly live up to my full abilities, potential, and purpose, through YOU. It will be hard, exhausting, weary. But YOU are with me. And all I need is YOU. I chose to walk the narrow, harder road of life, because it is for YOU. It is not for my exhaustion or my strength. It is not for my pleasure or my purpose. It is for YOU. This life is YOURS.
And I trust. That you won`t give me more than I can bear. That you will give me more grace (James 4:6) and complete strength. That you will be enough, no matter what I go through or face.

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