Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Lessons From the Round Pen:Forward Motion

When a trainer works with his horse in the round pen, especially a young horse that hasn't been ridden, he will start with groundwork. Almost anything you want to ask your horse to do when you are riding can also be done from the ground. You can teach the horse to yield to the pressure of a long rope to turn, stop, move, or step over. You can use long reins to get the horse accustomed to a bit. You can teach him to respond to voice commands. One of the most basic things involved in this groundwork process is forward motion. A good trainer keeps his horse moving and busy. In the round pen, we do this by driving him forward around the perimeter. The trainer stands in the center, holding a long rope attached to horse's halter. He will encourage the horse to go by waving a flag, a whip, or the end of the rope. He may also use arm motions. The position of his body as he moves in toward the horse's flank also helps to drive it forward. Body language, position, and voice commands communicate to the horse to go forward, change directions, and stop. This process, called lungeing, causes the horse to give attention to the trainer. An experienced horseman will be able to keep his horse moving without allowing it to anticipate his next move. Therefore, the horse must be tuned in. It cannot be easily distracted by outside things while it is moving forward around that center where the trainer is. However, if the horse is stopped for a long period of time, it will either become bored or distracted and will not respond well to its master's agenda. When a horse is being fearful or stubborn and refuses to move, nothing can be accomplished. In that moment, the horse is the center of his own universe and listening to his natural instinct to preserve himself. If you can get that horse to start moving forward, you then gain his attention and force him to shift away from his instinct and trust you.

Now, that horse is just being a horse, doing what he thinks he needs to do by instinct. He did not ask to enter our world. He did not ask us to do anything. We are pursuing a relationship with him. We are entering his world and asking a lot of him. All that we ask him to do comes naturally for him, but doing it in the context of a relationship with us is not natural. It's a bit different when it comes to God and us. God created you and me in His own image: relational beings. In the Garden of Eden, relating was the most natural, beautiful thing between God and man and between Adam and Eve. Satan came and tried to destroy what God made. When man sinned, relationships were perverted and broken. So now, the very thing we were created for has become the hardest thing in the world. Praise God, that's not the end of the story! One day, Jesus Christ is going to return and restore all things to perfection, including relationships. They will once again be the most beautiful, natural, alive experience between God and His creation and between all the redeemed in Christ.
"Because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body." Romans 8:21-23
So while we live on this earth and groan in the pain of broken relationships, let us realize that we are in a race, and while we will never reach perfection on this earth, that is the goal we are running for. Not to try to do everything right, but to seek God and draw nearer to Him, because in Him we are complete, and when we see Him face to face in That Day, we will realize wholeness in every part of life! So as the horse must be kept moving forward to focus in on the trainer, so we must be always moving forward, reaching out towards God, tuning in on Him as our center. When we stop looking up and moving toward Him, we get distracted by the world, the flesh, and the devil. We become the center of our universe, only interested in protecting ourselves. We will either start looking back and sliding downhill, or we will start looking around and sinking, like Peter did when he walked on the water. I see life and relationships on earth as a journey of desire for completeness, rather than a realization. It will always be uphill. It is practice, it is refining, it is painful. The best of our relational experience here is only a tiny foretaste of what it will be. So don't give up. Keep moving forward. And when you think you can't put one foot in front of the other one more time, look at your Trainer. Remember that your wholeness is in Him. Remember that His Spirit is empowering you to walk. When walking seems impossible, remember that He carries you.
"The eternal God is your refuge, And underneath are the everlasting arms;" Deut. 33:27