Riding has been my passion since I was 8 years old. It is what I have lived, breathed, and dreamed of at times, and the Lord has always provided a way for me to be around horses–to which I am incredibly thankful. Riding has affected my life in such a knitted way that many of my experiences riding affect who I am outside of the arena.
A few months ago, something changed with my riding that has deepened my love for Christ and trickled into the rest of my life.
When you get on the horse, the horse looks, listens, and responds to what you want her to do or where to go, how fast, straight, and energetic you want her to be. Riding can be like a dance between two partners. The rider leads the way and the horse responds. It can be something beautiful…but if the rider is not leading well, the dance can look forced, offbeat, and uncomfortable.
A part of being a leader in the dance of riding, one needs to have high expectations for the ride. I had lost sight of my riding goals, and it showed in the poor quality of our “dance.” Rosie barely responded to my cues, and I would not hold up my expectation for her to meet them. For example, I would ask for her to trot, she would slightly respond with an extremely slow trot, and I would just give into this extremely slow trot or ask again and again until I gave up. It was pretty pathetic. We had a lot of setbacks throughout our relationship, and I had let them affect our rides.
It wasn’t until a friend worked with both of us and said to me, “Jenny, you need to have higher expectations for this ride, for yourself, and Rosie! She knows you do not mean it. You are both better than this.” Upon hearing that, something in me clicked.
Not only was my outlook in the saddle less than what could be, but my outlook on my daily life was greatly influenced by my expectations that I would be disappointed somehow. I had gotten to a place where I let even the possibility of being disappointed cloud the bright light of Jesus shining in the midst of daily life. It got in the way of daily transformation and genuine joy, hope, and excitement. I got in a place of protecting myself from “getting my hopes up” but I was missing the true point of daily hope. Daily hope is not physical. It is not a physical thing or event or person. It is a Jesus-centered outlook: Think on these things.
My preconceived disappointment was challenged by the Truth of His Word that says:
”…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and hear and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”Philippians 4:8
In any and every situation, we can choose to think on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise and our eyes will be lifted from our present situation to Who is there (and always will be there). Jesus is in every good thing. And if you are a follower of Jesus, He is in you which means that you are guaranteed those good things mentioned in this verse.
So, what keeps you from having a Jesus-centered outlook? Fear, shame, disappointment? Maybe it is how you view and interact with those around you—those who may be particularly hard to love. Maybe your hopes have been continuously beaten down. In all of those areas, there is one thing you can change—how you choose to view your situation. When it comes to our relationship with Christ, He can transform our gray days and situations because we look less to the things of this world, but more to Him.
This is not a quick fix. Notice, he says, “practice.” One suggestion I can make is to memorize this verse! When I start looking at the gray, instead of the light, I repeat this verse to myself and start to look for those things. Another is simply to choose one aspect to focus on each day. “Today, I am going to look for things that are worthy of praise” or pick one situation to grow in: “Today with my coworker, I am going to think of what is excellent about her” and you will see Christ shining through your situations.
What do we get for focusing on these things? His peace. That is a wonderful expectation to grow in and a peaceful outlook to look for.
Thank you for the gift of Jesus, who shines through me and my day. Help me look to Him always by focusing on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. Help me specifically see and think about these things in these areas of my life: __________. Father, I ask to tangibly feel your peace as I grow stronger in practicing this in my daily life. I love You and Trust You.
In Your Name I pray,