Not following God is like being a horse without a driver. If you’ve ever seen a horse in full harness without a driver, you know what frenzied lack of direction and fearful thrashing about looks like. They’re justifiably panicked.
I’ve spent most of my life doing exactly that.
For a horse, the blinders cut out the side view distractions and the placement of their eyes cuts out the straight ahead view. Try putting on your biggest, fur trimmed winter hood and then sticking a large sized sticky note right between your eyes.
They can only see where they are headed. And only for a few feet ahead of them, at that.
And it works. But only if someone is driving them.
Why Not Be Like Free Horse, Without Blinders?
Easy answer: Because we aren’t. We’re born with blinders on.
We live in a fallen world where ‘bad things happen to good people’, as they say. And, God’s ways are higher than our ways.
This means our vision is innately inaccurate. Our judgement of the right direction is off, by nature. So, like a horse, we’re unlikely to get to a destination without guidance.
That great field of vision to a horse’s left and right is full of frightening, enticing distractions. The long view ahead is full of things that might make them stop or turn away before they come to their destination.
Horses are distracted by food and danger.
My distractions are my past failures, my fears that I’m not enough and my worries that I’ve misread God’s leading and taken off in the wrong direction.
My biggest distraction is the desire to stop following God and put more ‘me’ into my life. My effort. My logic. My strength.
The only way you could safely navigate would be if someone trustworthy had the reins. Someone who knew exactly where you needed to go and loved you enough to guide you there.
What could be better than a short view of the next step, no distractions to frighten us and a leader who cares for us? The kind of leader with his hands on the reins, gently but firmly keeping us moving in the right direction?
That’s how the best horse and driver teams work. The horse trusts the driver. The driver very subtly signals the horse when to turn, slow down, stop or pick up speed.
And this is the best part: They get where they’re going.
Following God: An Issue of Trust
What if I don’t trust God?
Good question. I, often, struggle with trusting God over my own eyes and experience.
When a horse has been mishandled or is very new, the driver must be extra skilled. Extra gentle. Extra consistent.
And extra firm.
Not mean. Firm. A strong, loving authority so the horse can learn to rest in the safety of his direction.
When a siren goes off in the horse’s blind spot or another vehicle comes through their field of vision, too close, too big, too threatening? A good driver holds steady.
Steady words of comfort for the horse. Steady eye to the best way around the trouble. Steady hands on the reins that, if the horse follows his driver’s directions, will steer him safely away from the trial.
Should the horse not follow direction and believe his fear over the steady hand of the driver, things could get hairy. But, even then, a good driver never let’s go of his gentle grip on the reins.
The horse may even forget the driver is there, in his panic. But the driver continues guiding and steadying. He picks up the journey wherever they get off course and continues towards the destination.
He doesn’t punish the horse for his lack of trust and obedience. He simply continues being the trustworthy, caring guide.
Does any of this sound familiar? Or enticing?
When I look at following God in this light, it’s easy to say, “Yes please!”
And yet, like the horse out on the road, my sin nature will try to turn and run to the smell of a nearby knoll of grass or from a shocking sound in my blind spot.
Thankfully, my Lord never takes his hands off the reins.