Some people see stars and others pink elephants but I’m seeing horses … real ones!
It started several weeks ago while I was still stressing over getting permanent on my job. Yes I was trying to “have faith” but as I shared in my last blog I was typically human and having trouble with being super spiritual from time to time. Also I was and still am struggling with excruciating back pain.
The horses started appearing on one of those really hard days when I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to get permanent and even if I did my back was going to just get worse and I’d lose the job anyway and be confined to a bed of pain. Come on, you’ve all been there at one time or another.
I started down the long dirt road to the community I was working in that day and the pain in my back was so overwhelming that I was crying real tears and begging God for some relief. I had my iPod plugged in and my praise music booming through my Prado and I was praying and crying and begging.
This isn’t a desert like the Mojave, where I grew up, with just cactus and rocks. It has a variety of short scrubby trees, tall grass (after rain) and a variety of bushes. It can change from areas of tall gum trees to prairie like grassland within a couple of miles and then to the short scrub trees. This particular day I had gone through all three and on both sides of the road was an area of quite dense short scrubby trees.
I was driving as fast as you can in dirt and I noticed way up ahead that something dark was coming toward the road on the left through the trees. They are pretty dense there and I just caught glimpses of motion that could have been a vehicle but too fast for cattle. I didn’t think there was a road there anyway. I braked and slowed down not knowing what to expect.
Suddenly two dark brown horses shot out from the brush and trees and ran across the road in front of me at top speed with tails flying straight out behind them and manes like flags in a high wind. They never even looked my way as they jumped the berm on the opposite side of the road and continued their flight into the brush.
I stopped and watched them running free and wild, mesmerized by the sheer wonder of the sight of them. They didn’t seem to be running out of fear but more out of the pure joy and abandon of the moment. The thought came to me that we have that ability to live our lives with joy and abandon through Christ. I forgot about the pain in my back, the needless fear of losing my job. I have Christ in me, the hope of glory. He alone will uphold and protect me and He will not allow more than I can handle to come into my life.
The horses ran across the desert with a cloud of dust following them and I sat thanking God for sending the horses across in front of me to remind me that He is there watching over me. You see horses are my first love in the animal world. For many years I had horses and have ridden thousands of miles on their backs. I have missed my horses terribly. I still think of pressing your face into the neck of a horse and smelling that beautiful “horse smell” that to me is better than roses. God knows me well and He knows that nothing makes me as happy as seeing horses.
I know that there are wild horses out there in the bush but they are a rare sight. Camels abound daily and cattle are everywhere. Kangaroos are a given. Bush turkeys and Bustards and Dingos, all sorts of lizards and even wild cats and rabbits are fairly common but not horses.
I went on that day, refreshed and restored and my back pain subsided. A few days later I saw another horse thunder across the road ahead of me. He kept on running for joy just like the others.
A few days later I saw a small herd with a blond stallion, no white mane and tail like a Palomino, just blonde all over. He spotted me and started dutifully gathering his small band of mares and one tiny foal to move them to safety. He had six mares and several appeared pregnant.
It kept on even after I went permanent on my job. My back pain was increasing and the thought that I might not be able to maintain the job I’d won still coming into my mind. Now my goal was getting some time off to rest my back but that had gotten further out of reach as new house refurbishing projects sprung up unexpectedly in two of my four communities.
I have a very high pain threshold but this back pain and constant spasms was getting the better of me. Just when I thought I could go no further horses would appear to cheer me up.
I had heard about a black stallion and his herd that was very rarely seen. A few days after I heard about him I was driving back to my base community and there he was right in a small meadow-like area by the side of the road. Coal black with a white spot on his forehead and not another white mark on his body. Seriously. I couldn’t believe it. I slammed on the brakes and stared. There he stood, head held high, neck arched, body tense, staring boldly back at me. Then with that snaky toss of his head that only a stallion can do he turned and moved his three pregnant mares off into the trees, turning to look at me just in case I would dare to follow him. Glory what a sight! I totally forgot my back pain and any problem I might have. Thank you God for the horses.
Then another morning of pain and another horse. I was driving slower than usual because I felt defeated. Up ahead very close a horse stepped out from the trees and walked across the road in front of me without even a look. He stepped regally up the berm of the road, walked a few feet and turned to look at me. I rolled the window down and told him he was a beauty. He snorted and ran off a few feet and then turned and looked at me again. Maybe it was the English words instead of Aboriginal or maybe nobody had ever told him he was a beauty. He snorted again and cantered away stopping again to look at me. I laughed and wished I had a carrot to offer him, not that he would have come near the car, he is wild and free and not subject to human whims.
Then just three days ago I was heading back from a day’s work at two communities, tired from the pain and right by the road stood three adult horses and a colt about 6 months old. They were all dark brown and the one horse had a white marking on his forehead running down his nose that looked like a sledge-hammer with the metal part on top and the handle running down his nose. It was the wildest thing I’ve ever seen because it looked painted on it was so straight and clear.
Yes you could say it was all a big coincidence but I don’t think so. I’ve been driving those roads for 8 months now and suddenly there is a major sighting of horses. If you knew me well as a couple of you do, you’d know that is God’s gift to help me get through this time of stress and pain. Nothing in this world could make me happier than a horse. I love them and they represent many years of the sheer joy of riding the outback and deserts of America. Years spent with dear friends and relatives around campfires and on pristine trails where few have gone. I spent hours on horses in Montana herding cattle and going with a mule train two days journey into inaccessible mountains. Horses have occupied the better years of my life so why wouldn’t God bring them to me in this time of uncertainty and pain.
In the next blog I’ll tell you what He showed me yesterday during my three-hour drive home. We talk about much in that Prado as I drive dozens of hours and hundreds of miles.