Lessons from the first horse whisperer.

by Kevin on June 17, 2010

Go to any store that sells magazines and you will probably see a Western Horseman magazine. Turn on RFD-TV and within a short time you will see a program like Downunder Horsemanship or Chris Cox Natural Horsemanship. Go to the feed store and they probably have books on starting colts, western pleasure, and reining.

All of these books, magazines, and shows will teach you a trick or two of how to train your horse to either act a certain way, perform a certain move, or become better at different tasks. A lot of these things work and they work well. They offer quick and easy things that you can do every day, usually in just a few short minutes, that will allow you to become a better rider and your horse to improve it’s performance ability.

Clinton Anderson of Downunder Horsemanship will talk about getting your horse to be soft and supple. You will constantly hear him talking about getting a horse to flex and bend. Until you teach your horse to do all these things, he will not be able to turn very fast, speed up in the blink of an eye, or stop on a dime.

With a DVR and a few magazine subscriptions, you could spend an entire day working these little tricks that professionals have devised to make your riding experience better. This may work well in the horse world, but they stink when we try to apply them to our Christian lives.

There is no training substitute for just being with your horse. We spend way too much time on this exercise or this training tip when we could benefit more by just sitting and watching your horse eat, sleep, and run. One of the very first “horse whisperers” spent a couple of years, not working with horses, but watching mustangs in the wild.

Before he tried any fancy riding tricks or attempted to get a horse to turn on a dime, he just sat, watched, and learned. He sought to understand the horse and the way it worked before he tried to do anything.

This man wasn’t the first to implement this idea. One of the first “horse whisperers” was a woman. And her name was Mary.

There was a little family that lived in the town of Bethany, not far from Jerusalem. Mary lived there with her sister Martha and her brother Lazarus. Yup, that’s the same guy that Jesus brought back to life. But Lazarus and his sisters were not strangers to Jesus, they were his friends. When told of Lazarus’ death, the bible says that Jesus wept.

Martha was the busy body of the family. She constantly fretted over things and seemed very pragmatic. She showed Jesus how much she loved him by doing this and doing that, but she also found herself aggravated from time to time with Mary.

Luke 10:39-42

39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

In another instance, Mary poured expensive perfume on the feet of Jesus. Some people scoffed at this, but Jesus shushed them by saying that Mary knew what was important.

Do you notice a trend here? Everyone seems to be criticizing Mary. Everyone else is busying themselves with what they thought was important, but Jesus constantly said that Mary was the one that was right. Everywhere we turn, we see Mary at the feet of Jesus. She was even at his feet when he was crucified.

You can turn on the TV and get tips on horse training or you can get tips on how to live a Christian life. But the greatest and most overlooked tip is just sitting at Jesus’ feet. Too many times we try tricks and tips to get our lives more in tune with what Christ wants from us. We all are pretty good at Martha’s way of doing things, but very few of us understand Mary’s way.

Today, don’t worry about what other people say. Don’t worry if they criticize you. Just follow the example of the first horse whisperers and just relax and sit at the feet of Jesus. Watch, worship, and learn.

If you had to choose, are you more like Mary or more like Martha?

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  • Not going to lie, I’m probably more like Martha than Mary. There’s a book out actually called the “Three color ministry” that uses the two of them as archetypes of ministry. I have a habit of wanting to act, of doing something and having something to show for it rather than just waiting on the LORD and enjoying his presence. The real kicker is that I’ve managed to convince myself that none of it has anything to do with what anyone things about me. I just want to work for Christ and build that relationship by DOING rather than by BEING.

    Oh yeah, I’m a therapists nightmare. LOL

    • Kevin

      I think we are both paradoxes wrapped up in an enigma….I have no idea what that means, but it sounds like us.

  • I find that I am very contemplative by nature. I can take just on line of scripture and be taken up for hours. I do spend a lot of time in the quiet just listening and thinking. To others it seems like wasted time and I have been criticized by others for not “doing something” It is a had thing to hear when it feels natural to just sit and let you mind be consumed by the Holy Spirit.

    I do find that I must be somewhere secluded. If not, I get distracted very easily.

    • Kevin

      If you being criticized for sitting at the feet of Jesus, then that means you must be doing something right Marry….I mean Larry.

  • I’m more like Martha, want to become more like Mary though. I think sometimes we try too hard, I know I do.

    • Kevin

      You could take the “sometimes” out of your last sentence and replace it with “always” for most of us.

  • I love working, doing things with Jesus. I think the key for me is to not just work FOR the Lord but to work WITH Him. I think Martha became resentful of her sister because she saw her work as a chore rather than as a delightful way of being with Jesus. Mary delighted in sitting with Jesus, being with Him. Martha could have had that attitude about her service, but she did not.

    The other point you made that really struck a chord with me was that there are no shortcuts to Christian growth. All the tricks and tools are nifty, but they do not substitute for time spent with Jesus.

    Thanks for the lesson today. –Richard

    • Kevin

      I also love working with the Lord, but my past is full of trying times when I worked for the Lord. Big difference. Thanks for summarizing my thoughts for me. Very well put.

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