Don’t Force the Horse — by Larissa Odell

March 9, 2016

Life works better when God is in control.

Lord, we know that people do not control their own destiny.
It is not in their power to determine what will happen to them.
Jeremiah 10:23-24 New English Translation

Imagine you are riding a strong willed horse. Now, you can totally control that horse, make him go the direction you want to go. You come to fork in the road and you want to go right, but the horse keeps swinging his head to the left. You pull on the reigns to the right, and the horse jerks his head back to the left. Since the horse seems resistant to going to the right, you give him a sharp heel to his gut and urge him on. The way is dark and tree shrouded. The path is treacherous and fraught with perils around every turn. Your horse whinny’s frequently noting his displeasure, but concedes to take this path. Even though your horse has conceded to take this path, it takes untitled (1 of 3)more of your strength and effort to steer through this perilous trail. Often your horse moves quickly to one side or another, jumps and rears up for no apparent reason.  What you aren’t seeing are the snakes and other dangers hidden among the rocks, of which your horse is instinctively aware.  You continue expending energy to stay astride with each unexpected side step. This constant output fatigues you to the point of exhaustion. Finally, you come to another fork in the road. You try to lead your horse to the left this time, but the horse pulls to the right. You’re so exhausted from holding yourself on your mount and trying to force your horse in the direction you want to go. You give in, finally. The horse sets off the on the right path. You still have to hold the reigns, but now you are holding them gently, only having to use them to make slight course corrections around obvious obstacles, such as the fallen tree you come across. At times, the road becomes steep and cavernous, but your horse instinctively hugs the wall without you having to instruct him. You come to waterways without a bridge, and your horse finds shallows where he can easily step or jump through. You notice your energy is returning, and lightly holding the reigns you can now look around you and see the beautiful landscape that comes from allowing the horse to guide your path.

Forcing the horse shouldn’t be a believer’s desire, yet all too often we think we can muscle the Holy Spirit into following our path. He will nudge us to help us choose the correct path, try to get us to turn around, but ultimately let us go where we desire. All the while we have to work hard and struggle, and God is having to move us out of harm’s way. Yet, if we listen to the nudging’s of the Holy Spirit we could save ourselves this constant struggle and enjoy the path that God is taking us down.

Why do we do this?  What is our constant need to be in control?  Why are we afraid to give up control? Well, I guess that question is pretty self-evident. We like to be in control, because we think we can be in control.  The simple fact no matter how hard you fight and muscle and hold on, you are not now, nor will ever be in control of what happens to you. You might be able to get a hand hold of various areas of your life. Such as your finances. Be a good steward of what God has given you, but ultimately you have NO control over them. You could lose your job due to the company going bankrupt. All the world markets could simultaneously crash. Now, no need to panic. There is a solution.

Voluntarily give up control. Ta-da! Solved it.

What?  Are you kidding me? Voluntarily give up control?

YES! I know it’s not going to be easy, not at first that is.  But the more you do it, and the more you bask in the calm that is truly living by faith, the easier it gets. It really will give you that, “Ah”, feeling.

untitled (3 of 3)This is not to say that once we give up control we stop seeking God’s will though His word, prayer and praise. God doesn’t want automatons to slack jawed follow Him. He wants a relationship first with you.  Just like you want a relationship with your children.  But He also wants us to follow His lead for the direction of our lives. He gave us free will to follow Him or take another path all together.  His desire is to walk with you, guiding you, protecting you from the fall into a cavernous ravine.  But God is too much of a gentleman to force you to follow Him. At the same time if we have decided to walk with Him we need to understand that His plan is far greater than anything we could ever come up with, and we need to let Him have control.

Allowing God to have control takes a tremendous amount of faith. Fear will come, but you need to step out in faith. One of the ways that Chip and I have had to give up control is by both of us being self-employed. Talk about learning some lessons in trust, faith and giving up control!

I look back on my faith walk and see how God prepared me (and us) for this season of our lives. I had to learn to trust Him when it was just me who was self-employed.  One way I learned how to trust God was by memorizing various scriptures.  The first one I memorized is Philippians 4:6-7. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  Often at night when I would lay down, I would lay awake worrying. I would worry about if we would have enough money to pay our bills.  By repeating this scripture over and over again until I fell asleep, I learned not to worry as much.  I got to a place where this scripture worked its way from my head into my heart.  Along with memorizing this scripture, I would also sing praises to God when I would feel the fear creeping back into my heart.  Lastly, I would thank God for what we had instead of focusing on what we were lacking.  Through these practices I released my fear to God and by doing that I released control over this situation to God.  And God being faithful, provided for us for all of our needs and over time raised us to new levels of faith and new levels of success.

Now we are both self-employed, and we are learning to release even more control to God, and fully rely on Him.  It’s often tempting to force our horse to make things go the way we want, when we want.  That behavior only exhausts us and keeps us from being able to, “Trust the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” –Proverbs 3:5.  Allowing the Holy Spirit to be our true guide also allows us to enjoy the journey more instead of constantly struggling and fighting to make our will our path.  Learn to release your fear and control over to God, and He will raise you to new levels and give you a joy and peace that surpasses all understanding.  Don’t force your horse.

Copyright Larrisa Odell

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