The young horse’s eye grow wide with fright as I gently lead him towards the barn. Even though the building has lights on, it looks scary.
I continue to work with the young charge, bringing him closer. As soon as he stands – even for a second – I release the pressure and let him have a few feet of release.
Little by little we work our way forward until he is able to walk into the barn – and given with time he becomes comfortable in it – and other tight, dark places that I ask him to follow me into.
For while I would love for him to only have to live in wide open spaces…
That isn’t always an option.
When a horse is hurt, and we have to go to the vet, I am thankful when they trust me enough to follow me into the trailer so we can get them the help they need.
When I must take them a distance away, and the trip would be too gruelling for us to cover by riding, It is necessary for them to be able to be loaded in the trailer so that we can get to our destination without them becoming overworked and exhausted.
When the night is cold and they have putnin a good day of work, it is necessary to let them cool off in a barn, before they can run free in a wide and open space.
To a horse, a barn or a trailer can look like a dark, tight place, but sometimes these narrow places where they are boxed in for a period of time are necessary for their good.
As a horse owner, my intention is never to leave them indefinitely in these places. They only stay in as long as is needed for their safety, to get them the help that is needed, ot to get them to where they are going. And while they are in places, I seek to provide what they need to bring them comfort, so they have what they need and they are not afraid.
Psalm 23:4 says, “Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Have you ever been in a place like that? A place so dark and tight and narrow it leaves you feeling like there is no way out?
Yet, you know there is an important word in this verse…
The Good Shepherd leads us, His sheep, through the dark valley. He doesn’t leave us in it…He knows just how long is needed for us to remain to accomplish His good purposes…
And then He will lead us through.
Not only that, while we are in the dark, narrow place – the valley of the shadow of death – He is there with us, so we don’t have to be afraid, and He uses His rod and staff to bring us comfort.
Note: It is in these dark, tight places that I have learned an incredible truth. When I choose to draw close to my Good Shepherd, I learn to dwell in the secret place of the Most High, and abide in the shadow of the Almighty. When I do this an amazing thing happens. As the pressures are increasing, pressing in on me from the outside and my narrow place that I am in becomes tighter and tighter, I have found that next to the heart of God is a spacious place. As the pressures on the outside increase, the spacious place in the shadow of the Almighty somehow seems to become larger! Next to the heart of God, the inside is bigger than the outside:).
When I walk into the trailer or the barn, I enjoy hearing the delightful whinnies of the horses. While they learn to be comfortable – and some even enjoy being in the right places – they eagerly anticipate being led out those confined spaces and being brought to a wide open space where they can roll, run and play.
When our Good Shepherd leads us into a dark valley, we don’t know how long it will take Him to lead us through. But, we can know that His intention is not to leave us there. He will bring us through, one day, to a wide open space:)