Riding Lessons

Another great devotional by Joni Eareckson Tada.

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For physical training is of some value,
but godliness has value for all things,
holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
—1 Timothy 4:8

Riding Lessons

By Joni Eareckson Tada

A friend and I were once joking about what kind of horses we’d like to be.  He mused, “I’d like to be a wild stallion, racing free across the plains, my mane and tail whipping in the wind.”  I smiled and countered, “Maybe, but a horse like that will never win any honors.  I would rather have the confines of a pasture and stall and be trained for dressage under bridle and bit.”

An unbridled, untrained horse lacks the restraints that guide and direct. The bit, martingale, tie-down, spur, and crop appear at first to the horse as irritants and hardships.  But such inconvenience and suffering school the horse to listen to the rider’s commands.  How hard it would be for an animal, without the aid of his master and his crop, to train himself up in the way he should go.  What’s more, the horse would be useless in the ring, without a hope of ever winning honors for his master.

It’s the same for humans.  Our natural bent is to enjoy what we think is freedom out there without constraints.  But as someone has said, freedom is not the right to do what we want to do, it is the power to do what we ought.  Hardship is our bit and bridle.  What’s more, our Master is an expert with the reins and the crop. Godliness involves training… without it, no honor can be given to our Master.

One of the key elements in good animal training is to break the will, but not the spirit.  In the same manner, we are never more “ourselves,” never more spiritually free than when our will is bent to God’s will.  Our spirit thrives on this kind of submission; what’s more, we are then well on our way to godliness.

God, thank You for seeing fit to saddle me with certain hardships.  You know what’s best.  You know how to train me for godliness.  I yield and obey…  I want to win You honors!


Copyright © 1998. More Precious Than Silver, by Joni Eareckson Tada. Published in Print by Zondervan, Grand Rapids. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version.

Gray-Haired Splendor

Those of us blessed with gray hair will really appreciate this wonderful devotional by Joni Eareckson Tada. Please visit her great site, Joni and Friends.

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 Gray hair is the splendor of the old. —Proverbs 20:29

Ernest Barkaway, a 90-year old Englishman, looked bright, sprightly and dapper in his woolen vest and British tam. He told me that when one of his kidneys was removed, he received a blood transfusion: “I watched the drops trickle through the tube, and I thought of all the people–male and female, English and foreign, black and white–who had given freely of their life blood for my need.” After a pause he wistfully added, “How much more Jesus gave freely of His life blood for my deepest need!” I could tell he had garnered much godly wisdom in his 90 years. He proved it with a poem he gave me…

They say that I am growing old; I’ve heard them say times untold,

In language plain and bold–but I am not growing old.

This frail old shell in which I dwell is growing old, I know full well!

But I am not the shell.

What if my hair is turning gray; gray hairs are honorable they say.

What if my eyesight’s growing dim; I still can see to follow Him

Who sacrificed His life for me–upon the Cross at Calvary!

Why should I care if time’s old plough has left its furrows on my brow?

Another house, not made with hands awaits me in the Glory Land.

What though I falter in my walk and though my tongue refuse to talk?

I still can tread the narrow way; I still can watch and praise and pray!

The robe of flesh I’ll drop and rise to seize the everlasting prize

I’ll meet you on the streets of gold and prove I am NOT growing old.

As I wrote the above, I learned Ernest Barkaway went home to be with Jesus. Write a note of encouragement or call an elderly friend today. Share Mr. Barkaway’s poem. 

Father, reveal to me ways I can ascribe dignity and show respect to the elderly people in my life. May I never take lightly their struggles and trials.

Blessings,

Joni and Friends
www.joniandfriends.org

Copyright © 2006. Pearls of Great Price by Joni Eareckson Tada. Published in print by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan

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The Price of Identifying (repost from Joni Eareckson Tada)

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity. —Hebrews 2:14

When we are hurting, if there is one thing that eases our pain or grief, it is this: We want someone to understand. We want somebody to really identify with us, to have some idea of what we’re enduring.

It is certainly like that for me. I hate feeling alone and alienated in those dark times when my paralysis seems overwhelming. On my really rough days, it helps to remember what the Bible tells us about Jesus identifying with us in our sufferings. It says that He was tested and tried in every way like us. That helps! When it comes to suffering, the Lord Jesus has gone ahead of us, and has intimate, experiential, first-hand knowledge of the pain, the weight, the frustration, and the struggle. He appreciates. He understands. He connects.

But it works both ways! Not only does Christ identify with us in our suffering, we identify with Him in His suffering. He identifies with us, and we identify with Him. He appreciates all that it means to be human, and we appreciate all that His divine grace supplies. Through suffering, He participates in our humanity; through suffering, we participate in His divinity.

So why do we struggle so to escape our suffering? Why do we look so desperately for release? I suppose this is why I’m not earnestly seeking to be healed and raised up out of this wheelchair. I see this trial of mine as a window into the heart of Jesus. Suffering is a connecting point between my Savior and me. And when I see His great love on the cross, it gives me courage to take up my cross and follow Him.

Do you want someone to understand what you are going through today? Turn to Jesus. When you do, you will better understand what He has gone through for you.

Lord Jesus, sometimes in my grief or suffering I just want to run away and hide. Help me, Savior, to run away to you, and to hide in you.

Joni and FriendsTaken from Pearls of Great Price.  Copyright © 2006 by Joni Eareckson Tada.  Used by permission.  Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

Familiarity

The following is from Pearls of Great Price. Copyright © 2006 by Joni Eareckson Tada.

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FAMILIARITY

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. —Deuteronomy 6:5-6

When Tim, an elder at our church, moved into his home in the Santa Monica Mountains five years ago, he was awestruck by an enormous rock formation that was set back from the main highway. The rock citadel towered majestically over the waters of a sparkling lake. “That first year I nearly ran myself off the road and into that lake half a dozen times, rubbernecking to get every view possible of its grandeur, at every time of day, in every different kind of light,” Tim said, “the sun illuminated its dramatic cracks and crevices in so many diverse and magnificent ways. If that rock were in the middle of Kansas, it would draw a million visitors every year!” A few months ago he was driving a visitor from the airport to his home. They came around a corner and his guest exclaimed, “Look at that Rock!” to which Tim replied “What rock? Oh, that rock!”

The next week in church, Tim blushed as he told us about the incident. “It reminded me of the ‘sin of familiarity’ – a sin which only those who have seen and loved the grandeur of our Rock of our Salvation, Jesus Christ, can commit.”

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My elder-friend went on to say that familiarity with Christ keeps us from enjoying true intimacy with the Lord. We listen to Christian talk radio, thinking it suffices for our daily devotions. Or we reach for an article on the latest theological controversy, and fail to reach for the Word of God itself. Ask the Lord to give you a new sense of his presence and a fresh touch of his Spirit. Renew your commitment to love him with your whole heart, soul and strength.

Lord Jesus, you are my Rock and Fortress. You tower over every thing in my life. Forgive me when I take for granted your grace and strength in my life, and may I never, ever allow your death and resurrection to become ‘familiar.’

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Thank you, Joni, for your wonderful words of wisdom!