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Pssst...are you digging in?

"But my people didn't listen, Israel paid no attention; so I let go of the reins and told them, 'Run! Do it your own way!'" (Psalm 81:11-12)

What is the purpose of the reins when riding a horse or having a horse pull a wagon? They let you direct the horse, don't they? At least, that is what someone told me when I mounted a horse as a young girl and attempted to get that large beast of an animal to go where I wanted it to go! Heaven knows, I have had some opportunities to ride some of the most stubborn horses, or at least it seems they were more stubborn than they were willing. No matter how hard I pulled the reins a certain direction....there was no turning them from their chosen destination! Gotta ask - - - - what was the purpose of the reins with these horses? I think they were there for nothing more than decoration! Or was it because I really didn't understand the purpose of the reins?

All I could do with those horses was to "give them the reins" and let them lead where they wanted. As you may very well imagine - it was most often right back to the barn! They did not want to take me down the trail, up the hill, or across the meadow, but wanted a leisurely afternoon enjoying oats and the shade of the barn! Imagine that! Sound like anyone you might be acquainted with in this life? I know God has tried to tug on my reins more than a few times, facing nothing more than my resistance to be "turned" down the trail he desired. In the end, he gave me the reins to head for "greener pastures" as I saw them - oftentimes right into what was not really all that beneficial or rewarding to me.

Guess what the outcome of my resisting the leading of God was? Yep, you guessed it - the pastures turned out to be fields of nothing more than briers and thorns! Isn't it amazing how strong-willed we can be? We put up all kinds of fight - then end up calling out to God to get us out of the briers! If you have ever resisted the 'reins' in your life, then you might have recognized the first failure was in not listening. The lady who taught me to ride when I was in Girl Scouts actually told me to speak to the horse, or use some little click of my mouth to get it moving. Try as I might no amount of sweet talking that stubborn horse did any good. The more I talked, the more he looked at me like I was goofier than goofy! The silly part of this was my believing the horse CARED about what I was asking it to do! In truth, he cared no more about going down the trail on the trail ride than he did about how the stock market was performing that day!

I wonder just how much we are like the horse - hearing, but not really listening. In fact, we just don't care about what God is asking - simply because we have our own agenda, or our "selective hearing" turned on. When this is the case, we usually end up with a little "heel digging" going on, don't we? We dig in, no matter how sweetly God urges us onward. God isn't like us - he doesn't try to manipulate us - he simply asks and then waits. If we care to listen - we enjoy the ride. If we don't - well....you know where that leads you. When God gives us the reins, he is actually allowing us to do our own thing - choosing our own way - even when he knows it will leave us hurt or longing. When we give full rein to something, we are letting our imagination or feelings develop in an uncontrolled way - a very unreliable way to operate. God's choice in giving us full rein is to allow us to realize the futility of our rebellion.

The stubborn horse did insist on a return to the barn, but not until after about 30 minutes of digging in his heels and refusing to move beyond the first few bends in the trail ride. But...he did not get the oats he imagined! Instead, the owner put him in the corral with the others, to be ridden by another. We often set out to get our own way, in belief we will realize a certain end, then find ourselves poorly disappointed with the outcome. Truth is, there is no good thing guaranteed to anyone who takes the reins of control out of the hands of God! Reins serve a purpose - to control the direction and lead down certain paths. I have seen riders so in connection with their horses making reins really unnecessary. The rider and horse just seem to understand the destination. There was a bond and a trust relationship between the two. I think we need the reins less and less as we develop a deep connection with God. In time, we begin to sense his leading, not so much by the tug of the reins, but by the subtle movement of his hand, the simplicity of a word from his lips, and the gentleness of his touch. Just sayin!

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