Riding out the Storm

As I write this, we’re in the middle of Tropical Storm Debby. We’ve already had 9 inches of rain in two days and the end is not in sight. The skies are grey, the wind is whistling through the trees as boughs bend and branches are falling from the weight of wet moss. The ground is soggy and we can no longer use the golf cart to feed without getting stuck. There is a small lake at the back of the property that wasn’t there yesterday and the swamp is overflowing. The frogs are singing loudly while the birds are hiding in their nests. I’m sure an alligator or two will wander through our property looking for a bigger pond. The bands of rain keep sweeping through with a steady downpour. The weather channel tells me there is a tornado warning and that this will last another few days. Flooding is everywhere and the thunder is deafening. We’re thankful our home and barns are high and dry. We’re thankful the pastures drain nicely so the horse’s feet stay healthy. We’re thankful the storm doesn’t have hurricane winds.

When the first rain starts falling, depending on the personality of each horse, they have several reactions. Sasha starts rearing, bucking and energetically showing her dislike of the elements. Then once she settles down and realizes she isn’t going to stop the rain with her antics, she runs to the shelter. In the next pasture, Rose throws a few kicks and bucks while Chief calmly walks to the shelter and stays inside until it stops. Rose follows shortly and they huddle together in friendship. Hollywood gets down and rolls, trying to dry himself as quickly as the rain falls. Justice, Patch, Ares and Athena continue grazing as though the storm around them cannot touch them.

When the storms hit our ranch here in Central Florida, we “hunker down and ride them out.” We’ve found it is a waste of time to rant, rave, scream, get angry or otherwise complain and waste our precious energy, trying to show our dislike of the unchangeable situations. After all, what can we really do about the weather. And if we’re honest with ourselves, what can we really do about the storms of life. The disappointments, tragedies, lost chances, broken dreams, ended relationships, financial ruin and many more all envelope us at various stages of our lives. These are the trials and tribulations that Jesus talks about in the Bible. Things that happen that could very well destroy us, if we don’t learn how to deal with them.

Since horses have a very high level of emotional intelligence (a high EQ), meaning they’ve learned how to keep their emotions level and calm, let’s look at what they do, and see what we can learn from the herd…

1. Sasha threw a fit at first then ran to the shelter while the storm raged. These are the drama queens. Every time there is trouble, we scream, cry, blame everyone else for our troubles, get angry and generally carry on at emotional levels that far exceed the trouble. Eventually we get to the point of realizing that the past is over and we must pick ourselves up and carry on. By the time we get to this point however, we’re exhausted, stressed and have generally made everyone else exhausted and stressed. We’ve destroyed our own joy and the joy of everyone around us. As we go to our “shelter” to ride out the storm, we’re depressed and looking to medicate our pain. We try drugs, alcohol, shopping, eating or hiding to overcome our pain at whatever ‘storm’ has invaded our lives. Our health suffers. Disease attacks our bodies and our strength is weakened. But Sasha rebelled for only a few minutes before running for shelter. How long do we stay in the storm, tossing every which way before we finally realize that we need to seek the shelter of the MOST HIGH GOD…see Psalm 91. Unfortunately, some of us never grab hold of the joy that can be found in Jesus and the freedom He offers.

2. Chief calmly walks to the shelter but Rose, like Sasha, throws a few kicks at first then follows Chief to shelter. It’s interesting to watch this pair as Chief ignores Rose’s antics and leads the way to shelter. On her own Rose would continue to stress for awhile but with the steady influence of Chief, she settles and follows his calm leadership. In families and relationships, many times we need the guiding influence of a steadier person to help us ride out our storms. Accepting help can be a difficult thing for many people for many reasons. They may feel unworthy of help. They may have too much pride to accept help. But sometimes they’ve simply never had someone offer them help and don’t really understand how to accept it. Many people don’t understand that a helping hand is a blessing from God. It is the answer to their prayer. Rose trusted Chief enough to know he would not lead her astray. When you have confidence in the person offering you help…let them bless you and in offering a helping hand, they will in return be blessed. It won’t change the trouble, but it will give you comfort during those darker days.

3. Hollywood rolls trying to dry himself and minimize the effects of the storm. While Hollywood tries to dry himself, he is looking to evade the storm. He tries and tries to dispel the discomfort and cover up the situation. He races around the pasture trying to outrun the storm, until finally, it is too much and he knows that isn’t the solution. Many times we also try to minimize the damage of the trials in our lives. We hide the problems we are facing and put on a happy face all the while hurting inside while we carry the burden ourselves. But while the storm is raging around us, there is damage to everyone involved. While we hide our true situation, families are hurt by the lack of truth, our own health suffers in living a lie and frequently any others who are involved are hurt worse than if we were right up front in the beginning. In the end, the darkness comes to light while the storm still rages outwardly. How many of us rage against God, blaming him for our troubles instead of seeking him in repentance, knowing that He is right there beside us waiting for us to come back to Him.

4. Justice, Patch, Ares & Athena calmly graze while the rain pounds down and the water rises up. These four horses (my EAL herd) show the deep sense of peace that comes from knowing their creator is in charge. Although the other horses take a little longer to remember the truth that these four have already conquered, this wise herd faces their trials by calmly engaging in their everyday routines. They turn their hindquarters to the storm, as the relentless rain continues to drench them, secure in their knowledge that after the storm the sun will shine again. The wisest of us have learned to go through the storm while hanging onto our peace. We have learned to turn our butt’s to the trouble and pray in faith and wait in peace for the storm to pass. In knowing Christ as our savior, we are able to meditate on His many promises as our boat starts to sink…knowing that He is with us. He has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us. We must learn to recognize which storms have come upon us because of our bad choices and which ones surround us because God is allowing our trouble in order to build our character to become more like Christ. And sometimes He allows the problems in our lives so we will return to Him in repentance…it is a loving form of discipline to believers. No matter what the reason for our trouble, we can rise above our emotions and, with wisdom, trust God.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
James 1:2-4

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to us all. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

In knowing that God is always with us and loves us we can rest in His presence as the wind blows and the rain falls around us. When we have built our house on the foundation of Christ, we know that each problem is a chance for us to grow our character into the image of Christ. We know that He is ultimately in control and we are able to put on “a garment of praise, instead of a spirit of despair” Isaiah 61:-3. “And we know that all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28. Let us remember that this is a NARROW promise. It is only for those ‘who love him, who have been called.’ This promise is for children of Christ, for those who have been born again. For without Him, there is no hope. If you don’t know Christ but would like some spiritual coaching, please call for a session. If you are ready to give your life to Christ, please contact us to pray with you. Then find a Christ centered church to attend and begin your new life.

So sisters and brothers in Christ, the next time we face a situation that causes us to feel despair, sorrow or anger, let us not forget who is ultimately in charge. The next time we feel we won’t survive the storm, let’s remember these words of comfort from our Creator. Let’s get control of those thoughts that rule our emotions. Let’s remember He holds each of our lives in His hands and if He is allowing us to go through a trial, it is only to lovingly help us grow into better human beings; to seek Him, to honor Him and to worship Him….for that is the reason He created us! The sun will shine tomorrow!


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