That was the number of years that Butterfly had been walking on this earth. How many hoof steps that would be, I am uncertain, here is what I do know.
As a beginner horse for our youngest daughter, the retirement years Butterfly spent at our ranch were filled with a combination of love and adventure. While at times, it was debatable who was in charge, Butterfly was just the right mix of stubborn and gentle through which our daughter safely gained confidence and learned responsibility in the world of horses.
When her riding years were over, Butterfly continued to be the recipient of TLC, as she was much loved. It was this love that initiated the tradition of having a birthday party for Butterfly – complete with a birthday present, a horse birthday cake (of sweet feed), and horse friends to share it with.
It was to celebrate another year of Butterfly’s life that we journeyed out into horse pasture on a crisp February afternoon. The bright sunshine and glittering snow were cheerful companions that accompanied our festive mood as we walked along the horse path in search of the birthday horse. Weaving our way through barren, leafless trees, we found Butterfly resting at the base of a tree. She appeared to be asleep.
But we soon discovered that this was a sleep from which she would not awaken.
As cheery joy crashed into harsh reality, my daughter started to run. In confusion. With pain. Without aim. Finally, her eyes found mine. She dashed towards me and slammed into me with a face full of tears and a heart full of hurt. Sobs wrenched her body as I hugged her close and cried with her. Something so unexpected, entirely out of our control, had changed the entire trajectory of our day, and its impact would linger long after we buried Butterfly in her final resting place.
How often does this happen in our day? We start out the morning thinking we are headed in one direction, but then something out of our control collides with our plans, and in an instant, the trajectory of our well-ordered life is spun off course. Sometimes just a little bit. Other times it seems like the power of the collision sends us careening into a different galaxy.
In the initial moments, we may not know how to respond. We want to flee our new reality and return to our routine lives. But that may not be possible. So we run in confusion. In pain. Without aim. Until our eyes connect with our God, who is our Rock (Ps. 18:2). When we cry in our distress, he hears us (Ps. 18:6). When we run, he catches us for he is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble that surrounds us (Ps. 46:1). To whatever depths we sink – shallow or abysmal – his tender care finds us, for he is the Father of ALL compassion and the God of ALL comfort who comforts us in ALL our troubles, regardless of what they are (2. Cor. 1:3, 4). At his throne of grace, we receive from him all the mercy and grace we require to help us in our time of need (Heb. 4:16).
So, when the circumstances you find yourself in have left you reeling in confusion and pain and not knowing what to do or where to go, here is something you can do. Turn your eyes to the One who hears your heart when you cry, who catches you when you run, who anchors you when all around is chaos, and who provides all the mercy and grace required in your time of need. He is the One who is all-powerful and well able to do all that he has promised (Rom. 4:21).
Even when the trajectory of your life is spinning out of control.