We Don't Have To Run Anymore - Our Summer Of Slow
The rain pelted the steel top of my horse trailer as I popped open the door and urged my tall, lanky, Thoroughbred, Jack out of the back. It was late September and a blustery weather system had brought a crisp, cool chill upon us. I shivered as I zipped my jacket and lifted its hood, reaching for the lead rope hanging from Jack’s chin.
It was his first time at a horse show and Jack pranced alongside me as we made our way down the long gravel road that led between the barns and past the various arenas where riders were warming up their mounts. His head was high, his ears pricked forward and his eyes wide with anticipation. Every muscle in his body was tense.
Genetically, Jack was predisposed to be on edge. Like all race horses, bred with an intentional tilt towards taking flight at a moment’s notice. But now he was retired and learning to live a new life away from the hustle of the backside. An adjustment that didn’t always come easily to him.
“It’s OK buddy. There is nothing scary here” I had said, reaching up to rub his face. My eyes following his frantic gaze as it darted around the venue.
Just then, a plump man with a thick white beard and a cowboy hat had climbed down from the announcer’s booth and took a look at Jack who was standing before me with his head still raised.
“Just off the track?” He asked, sizing Jack up quickly and repositioning the wad of chewing tobacco wedged beside his lower lip.
“Yes sir.” I had replied with a nod.
The man walked up to Jack and gently reached for his halter with a knowing look in his eyes. He stared up at him for a moment and then glanced back towards me.
“He just hasn’t figured out that he doesn’t have to run anymore”, he concluded squarely. “That’s all anyone ever wanted from him for so long.” With that, he gently reached for Jack’s neck and gave it a firm pat before heading off.
In the years that followed, a lot of love went into showing Jack that he no longer had to charge forward as if his life depended on it. And helping him to realize that there was no longer a whip or a spur demanding it set his pace. Many days were spent soothing his nerves before he would slowly release all of the muscles he once kept so tense.
With time I eventually was able to look to him and find a different kind of horse. One who knew he no longer had to run, but who did it anyways because he loved to. Running was, after all, the most natural thing for an animal like him to do.
Later in his life I would step outside and find him racing around in circles, just for fun. His thin black tail swishing playfully as he called out with a loud whiny to no one in particular. Finally realizing the life he was intended to live and celebrating it.
This is the lesson pulsing through the heart of the Christian faith. One realized in the dawn of that resurrection morning. It is our story written by God on our behalf. Jesus came, died and rose again so that we might be set free from an endless cycle of striving to earn our worth. Revealing the beautiful truth that we will be just as loved, and just as cherished no matter how fast we go or how hard we work to get there. Leaving us free to discover love and joy of our own. Reaching for and grasping the life we are intended to live here and now.
And in the same way as a horse running freely across a pasture reveals the glory of its Creator simply by doing what it is made to do, we too can shine our own light on God's wonderful love for us when we bask in His glorious presence and delight in the love and joy found from discovering what He put us on this earth to do.
But it’s a hard lesson to learn in this world that moves so fast and insists on setting such a relentless pace. With its constant call to striving and performing. Demanding we muster all the hustle we can find within ourselves. Stripping us of the joy of just being.
Some days I can’t help but feel compelled to charge forward alongside it as if there is a spur in my own side. And when I do, its as if I have forgotten or stopped trusting that the race has already been won on my behalf.
This summer, as Ruth and I dig into our spiritual toolbox together, we are going to be focusing on slowness. Learning how to intentionally seek something that is so counter to the culture of this world. And I believe that in doing so we will both be cultivating greater trust and awareness in The One who made us perfectly and who urges us to rest in Him instead of racing on behalf of other kingdoms.
Join us for the fun all summer long on Instagram.