One of my favorite ways to spend time with horses it to teach them tricks. The first horse with whom I ventured into the realm of trick training was a black mare by the name of Domyno. She learned basic tricks of saying “Yes” and “No, and also learned to “shake a hoof”. An injury to one of her front legs put a stop to learning more complex tricks, but she still enjoys telling me “yes” and “no”:DA few years ago, God opened the doors for a very special horse to come to my doorstep. Her name is Cali, and our journey together has been nothing short of amazing:D Difficult times, challenging circumstances and many long rides have forged a partnership and a friendship that surpasses that which I have known with any other horse.
Cali is definitely in a class of her own because she is a horse that knows her own mind…she thinks outside the box. She is not content to just plod along behind other horses. She has a mind of her own and finds her own ways to express herself:D It has been in discovering her unique personality and really letting her have the freedom to express herself within a partnership of trust that our relationship has truly grown wings and taken flight. While she enjoys ranch work, trail riding, racing the wind through the fields…probably the discipline that she enjoys the most is…
As our routine of tricks has developed, and we have shared these with others, I have had to learn to be flexible…for with Cali by my side I truly never know what she is going to do. While she knows many cues for tricks…she seems to add her own flair to what she is going to do.
One time I asked her what she would do if she came into the presence of royalty. I gave her the cue to do her curtsy bow, but instead she blew a large amount of air through her teeth…snorting and spewing large amount of saliva all over me. As I and the audience laughed at this unexpected response, Cali stood calmly as if wondering what the commotions was about.Another time, I had Cali stand on her pedestal and wave good-bye to the group of people we had been talking with. Thinking that she would just step down off the pedestal and wait quietly for me to finish, I left her so that I could go and say a few closing remarks to them.
Apparently I was mistaken!
Without me cuing her, Cali continued to stand on the pedestal and wave as I tried to make my closing remarks from about 30 feet away. It soon became evident that she had no intention of stopping:D She created such a distraction that I had to go over and lead her off her pedestal.
Another time we were practicing a skit routine that we had developed. I left Cali for a few minutes to go into the house to get a glass of water. As I was drinking it, I watched her through the window. She stood looking at the props that we used, and then very deliberately picked up a fabric lawn chair in her mouth. She waved it back and forth and proceeded to drop it, where it promptly crumpled and lay folded on the ground at her feet. Amazed, I ran back outside and placed the chair in front of her again. She proceeded to pick it up, wave it around and then tossed it to the ground. This trick that she had “taught” me quickly became part of our repertoire.
One day as I walked out of our house and up to Cali, she whinnied at me. I don’t know about you, but when a horse whinnies at me and bobs her head up and down, it seems pretty special…kind of like she is greeting me and letting me know in her own horsey way that she is eager for my company:DAs I rubbed her down, an idea began to take form in my mind.
Could I teach Cali to sing?
Where some horses sound like their vocal cords are coated with porcupine quills, Cali’s whinny is very musical and friendly.
As I continued to brush her mane, I tried to think of how I could teach Cali…
A new song…
One sung in response to mine…
One of the advantages with having a horse that enjoys tricks is that once Cali realizes that she is learning something new, she will try very hard to figure out what it is that I am asking her to do. Sometimes she will go through some of the other tricks that she has been taught…other times she will look away and back at me as if she is really thinking hard…trying to determine what the next step.
I really had no idea how to teach her how to sing on cue, but decided that since she would often call to me when I walked up to her, I would try to whinny before her…in the same musical tones of her voice…and when she whinnied back, I would reward her with a cookie or a big rub along her neck.It took some effort, but with time Cali came to recognize that when I stand beside her and “sing”, it is an opportunity for her to sing back:D When I sing the first part of the song, she will look at me, tilt her head a bit, look away, lick her lips and then nicker or whinny in response:D Sometimes she will only sing with me for one or two stanzas, while other times she starts to whinny and won’t stop:D
When I think of a new song, I think of Psalm 40:3 which says, “He has put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord, and put their trust in Him.”
David writes these words in response to verses 1, 2.
“I waited patiently for the Lord. He turned and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”
While these verses don’t tell us the direct circumstances that David found himself in, we do know that…
- He was in a situation or facing it unstable sin life where there was no way out…essentially he saw himself as being in a pit…a slimy pit whose walls he could not climb out of…
- His feet were stuck…no matter how much he tried he could not maneuver his way out.
- He needed help and so he cried out for assistance to the One who he knew would hear his cry and would help him.
- Although he was trapped and stuck, he did not panic. Instead he cried out for help, and then waited – not anxiously, impatiently, or demandingly – but patiently and confidently, because his hope and trust was tied to the One who would be able to deliver him…and until that deliverance came, would give him the strength to endure.
How did God respond to David’s cry for help?
- God turned and heard. He was not aloof or indifferent of David’s predicament. Instead, He was fully aware.
- God lifted David out of the pit. When I read these words, I am reminded that when we face trials in our lives, God’s intention is not to leave us in them “forever”…even though it may feel like it when they stretch on day after day. Peter 1:6 says, “…though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials…” The trials we face will one day have an end…if not in this life, then when we our heavenly home. Either way, we can be assured that they are not interminable, and because our God hears our prayers and is actively involved in our lives, we can be assured that He will supply for every need in the trial that we are in until the time comes when He lifts us out of the pit.
- God set David’s feet on a rock and gave him a firm place to stand. 1. Peter 5:10 says, “And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” I still remember the first day that this verse sunk into the depths of my mind and heart…the joy and relief that was mine as God reassured me that He was with me, and that He Himself would restore me, and make me strong, firm and steadfast. While trials can leave me stretched far beyond what I can bear, it is God Himself who will one day restore and make me strong, firm and steadfast.
- God put a new song in David’s mouth. What joy must have been David’s when he was liberated from his tight quarters and placed on a rock! What delight was his when his feet were released from the quagmire and God gave him a firm place to stand! Is it any wonder that God put a new song in his mouth…a song of praise to God Himself sung in the presence of others! A song that would speak to the hearts and minds of those who heard…so much so that they would turn to God…see Him…stand in awe of Him…and put their trust in Him…and whose lives would be blessed because they had chosen to trust in the Lord.
“Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story…let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind. Let them sacrifice with thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy…let them exalt Him in the assembly of the people and praise Him in the council of the elders.”
I still remember the first time that Cali and I tried our duet in front of a group of people. While we were able to do it quite well when we were alone, trying it in front of people was a different story! I sang the first part…she looked at me…looked away…and then, almost self-consciously, let out a very quiet whinny:D Not many people heard it…but I did!It seems strange that one of the most difficult things to do is to share our stories of God’s goodness and His unfailing love in our lives…how He is with us in our trouble and saves us in our distress…how He leads us through dark valleys and brings us out of the darkness…how He breaks the chains that bind us…how He satisfies our needs and fills us with good things…how He strengthens us in battles and stills our storms to a whisper, while guiding us to a safe haven…how He sustains us in our times of loss and lifts the needy out of their affliction.
It takes courage to share our stories, and yet when we share the new song of praise that God puts in our mouths, others have the opportunity to see His active hand at work in our lives…to stand in awe of His provisions…which in turn will lead them to put their trust in Him.
Let’s ask God to put a new song in our mouths…a song of praise to Him…and the courage to share our stories of how God heard our cries and met our needs with others so that they will trust in the One who loves them.