Doc came to me lame as a four year old. My husband and I made some difficult decisions where he was concerned and yet something always “over-rode” the decision we made and now here he is, a 12 year old retiree, hanging out with the old “men.” Pretty as anything. As healthy as a …well… a horse! Maybe still arthritic (he is older, after all), but he does just fine wandering around our forested hillside. He never did too well when a saddle was thrown up on his back.
Tonight, I watched the four horses that have been entrusted to my care plunge their faces eagerly into their dinner. I silently bemoaned the fact that I haven’t taken time to ride even once this summer and thought about the many hurdles the ponies and I have managed together–some literal, physical, but most on a personal, emotional, and even spiritual level.
My heart swelled with love and compassion as I looked at each of them.
Dodger, the formerly abused mustang who has barely carried any of us during his eight years of living with us. He did, however, give my son a season of pure joy, connecting with him in a way we wrote about for the Chicken Soup for the Horse Lover’s Soul, Volume 2 book. Now, Dodger just hangs out with his buddies “pretending” to be back on the Nevada desert, free of all encumbrances. LOL! I wonder if he ever misses the little boy that used to come down there and just sit with him.
Breezy loves thinking he is retired. Not to be anthropomorphic or anything, but he was always the cynic, yet nevertheless constantly offered more loyalty and reliability as any horse could. I wonder sometimes if he misses the horse shows, the parades, (the snacks!!!), the ponying younger horses and carrying new riders. Now, as he enters the twilight of life he probably won’t carry many people very often–at least not full-size adults.
Harley has taught me more about life and about myself than anyone else in my entire life. Someday, my escapades with him will be the contents of a book.
As I watched them inhale $$$ which would later become manure (talk about throwing money away), I was flooded with the deepest compassion and love for them. It struck me…maybe compassion is one of the clearest demonstrations of the way in which humans are created in the image of God. Again and again throughout the Scriptures, we are told that God has compassion for us and that He is a compassionate God.
I am not the “Creator” of the horses–they aren’t my design or a product of my imagination! They have brought many difficulties into my life–and many hard lessons. The joyful moments have been but a drop in the bucket, really. Yet, when I look at them and even when I consider the hard work involved in caring for them (let alone the expense), I am nevertheless flooded full of compassion. I desire their good. I even feel a sense of pleasure–even if we never ride together again! Even if my dreams for them haven’t been fulfilled! I joy in them.
I have not yet realized the dreams God has for me. I am sure I am much “trouble” to “keep.” Yet I see in a new way that God has compassion on me, too…just as His Word says. If I, an imperfect human, can feel compassion and love for my Harley who has given me a bunch of grief (and flying lessons!) over the past eight years, I know that God who IS perfect, who has created me, who knows me intimately…he is faithful to what he says about himself in the Word–He has compassion for me. Even when I fail and fail again and again…Sure, he may shake his head…or even shed a tear over my stubborn insistence to do things my way, but I can’t doubt that His heart is filled with compassion for me…for ME!
Question: How does knowing God is compassionate stir your heart? How does it affect you today? Please feel free to respond here. Every comment is read and appreciated.