Karen’s Column - The Way Ahead
Posted: Fri, 7th Jun 2013
When I was a child, I didn’t have the privilege of owning a horse or going to pony club. Instead my favourite childhood memory was going to Gibson’s Riding Ranch; a picturesque property nestled amongst the hills of the Gold Coast hinterland. Every so often my Dad would take my brother Gary, and me there to go trail riding. Even though I loved horses, I was always terribly nervous around them. The first three times I rode, I got thrown off, so I started to expect each ride would end with me flat on my back in the dirt!
Despite my nerves, I treasured those rides at Gibson’s. We rode up and down mountains, explored the wooded bushland and crossed deep creeks. I loved the echoing ‘clip - clop’ of hooves on stones as the horses crossed the rocky creeks. I was too afraid to lift my legs out of my stirrups, so my boots always filled with icy water as the horse splashed through the streams. After descending from the hills, we would ride along the lush, green river flats. My Dad and Gary would gallop alongside the river, but I’d cautiously trot behind.
Years passed. I bought my own horse and became a confident rider. Then one weekend my youth group planned to go night riding at Gibson’s Ranch. I hadn’t been there for years. At last I’d be able to ride like Dad and Gary used to - flat out!
The anticipated night finally arrived but when we mounted the horses, I suddenly noticed how unusually dark the night was. It was pitch black. There was no moon at all! How would I see the track if I couldn’t even see the horse underneath me? How could I ride without seeing where I was going? I became anxious again. It felt like I was wearing a blindfold. The trail ride leader rode off into the blackness and our well-trained horses calmly followed. The darkness didn’t seem to be a problem to them. It was impossible for me to see the track on those hills or to find the winding path between the trees, but the horses did it easily.
We rode on through the blackness. Instead of seeing hills, we felt the rise and fall of the land. Instead of spotting the creek ahead, we heard the ‘clip - clop’ of hooves on rocks and delighted laughter as riders got their shoes soaked. Before long, the darkness turned from a frightening problem to a delightful adventure. By the time we reached the river flats, I was filled with excitement again. I squeezed and gave my horse her head. As we cantered beside the river, it seemed time stood still. The wind was fresh in my face. The smell of freshly cut lucerne filled the air and the rhythmic pounding of hoof beats echoed softly in my ears. Although the path was a mystery to me, my horse carried me safely home.
Can you see how this story is actually a good picture of life? Many times we are faced, not with a dark trail ride, but with a difficult problem and we can’t see what to do. We can’t see a way ahead. We may feel anxious and uncertain. We might feel that we just can’t handle things on our own. Well, thank God, we don’t have to.
Life is full of surprises and they aren’t all the pleasant kind. But do you know what? God will always know the way ahead. There will never be a situation, no matter how difficult, that God can’t lead you through. You might feel like I did on that black night. You might feel scared, bewildered and unable to find your way. Don’t worry! Because my horse knew the way, I didn’t need to. And because God knows the way ahead, you don’t need to. God can lead you even in your darkest times.
I don’t know if you’ve ever looked in the Bible, but many people call it, ‘a guidebook for life’. In the Psalms, (which are reflections written by King David of ancient Israel) he wrote of both of being terrified, and of experiencing great joy. In Psalm number 23 he wrote, “The Lord is my shepherd, he doesn’t leave me in need. He leads me beside still waters and allows me to lie down in green pastures… but even in my darkest hours, when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I am not afraid because you God are with me, you protect me and comfort me!”
I hope you can find comfort in the fact that no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, we are not alone. We have a great, wise, compassionate guide. God knows our way ahead and when we follow him, he guides us through this uncharted journey of life.
Wishing you joy in the journey,
If you like Karen’s columns, check out her book for horse lovers: http://www.koorong.com/search/product/spirited-journey-a-a-devotional-for-horse-lovers/9781921589454.jhtml