Fear Not

child riding small buckskin horse

Buck with our 2-year-old granddaughter

Although I am not a horseman, we do own several horses and I do enjoy working with them.  Do not assume this means I know much about horses…I don’t…but I enjoy learning.  🙂

One of our horses is a little buckskin we bought for our grandkids to ride.  He’s named Buck…I know…not very original…blame it on the previous owners…  😉

The great thing about Buck is that he’s small enough for the grandkids to feel comfortable riding yet big enough for me to ride. This allows me to warm him up before the grandkids ride, as well as riding between grandkid visits, to keep him conditioned.

I recently started riding Buck on woods trails around our farm.  Buck was clearly uncomfortable in the woods, so I patiently worked with him.  It took a couple of tries before he would enter the woods, and we started with a very short trail.  The first day, I took him through two short trails.  Next time we started with a short trail before moving to a longer trail.

About half-way through the longer trail, we jumped a deer…and Buck came completely unglued!  He spun 180 degrees and tried to run back, “Easy boy!”  When I stopped him, he spun a full 360 degrees and tried again, “Easy!”

Moments later he was reasonably calm, but remained very tense.  “Easy, now.  Calm down.  I know you’re scared.  It’s okay.”  As we resumed the trail, I continued speaking soothingly.  “Trust me.  I won’t take you anywhere you shouldn’t go.  Don’t be afraid.  Just trust me.”

As we completed the trail, I realized I was simply repeating what the Holy Spirit tells me daily, “I know you’re scared, Joe.  It’s okay.  Trust me.  I won’t lead you anywhere you shouldn’t go.  Don’t be afraid.  Just trust me.”

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”  (Isaiah 43:1b-3a)

Your thoughts?


[Linked to Messy Marriage, Unforced Rythms, Wellspring ]


27 thoughts on “Fear Not

    • Yes, I appreciate your pointing out the need for context, Andrew.

      Treading dangerous paths at the Lord’s leading is well worthwhile. Remaining unnecessarily under an abuser’s manipulative control is not.


      • Absolutely.

        The call to danger should only come from God, and never from an abuser –

        Nor from the “abuser within”; the small voice that says “if I sacrifice myself I can SAVE him or her from their sin!”

        That’s a trespass upon the precincts of the Lord. We can’t save; only God can.

        And we do have the obligation to value ourselves as highly as anyone else. We’re not cannon fodder, or a punching bag to be battered at an abuser’s whim.

        • I love how you point this out, Andrew:

          “Nor from the “abuser within”; the small voice that says “if I sacrifice myself I can SAVE him or her from their sin!”

          That can be such an easy trap to fall into.

          Also, the trap of trying to recover the lost investment…having invested years in a relationship, there is a tendency to want to keep trying to ‘fix’ it…a sense that if we can just make it work then it will be worth all the pain and suffering, but if we end the relationship then all the years of effort is wasted.

          Emotionally it seems to make sense while in the relationship. Logically it makes no sense whatsoever…continuing to invest in a bad relationship continues to be a bad investment. It’s the same illogical logic that leads to gambling addiction.

          But it’s an easy trap to fall into…especially for someone from a background that encourages relational idolatry…

    • Hah! Good pun, David. I didn’t even think about a buck deer.

      Earlier this week, I helped my 6-year-old granddaughter ride Buck. She was very concerned about the origin of his name. “Why is he named Buck? Does he buck? Will he buck me off?”

      Of course I explained he is called Buck because he is a buckskin…but before she could accept this answer I had to further explain what a buckskin is, and the differences between a buckskin, a palomino, a bay, a sorrel, and a paint.

      She now knows all I know about horses… 😉

      • You’d have to explain even those to me, Joe 🙂

        I loved the exchange between you and Andrew – a fellow recovering alcoholic once pointed out that we don’t have relationships so much as we take hostages…and the hostages turn out to be enablers…who then become abusers themselves.

        • Oh, good! Someone who knows less about horses than I do! 😉 I only know because they’re all represented in our pasture…apparently Sherri likes equine diversity…

          That’s an interesting way of looking at abuse and relationships, Rick. I can see a lot of truth to that. An unrepentant abuser isn’t looking for real friends…the sort of people who will be straight-up honest with him and hold him accountable. An unrepentant abuser is looking for ‘relationships’ with people who will agree and sympathize with him and enable his abuse.

          Very insightful!

  1. Thank you for this reminder. I have had some fear attached to my book being published (it’s complicated), so this is a wonderful, kind reminder of how the Lord steadies us just like we steady our horses when deer jump out or we’re faced with something like cows!

    Good for you that you stayed on too. And that you spoke to Buck. I think they understand our language more than we realize.

    Love the wisdom in the comments above too.

    And I hope this isn’t obnoxious but please, please put helmets on your grandkids when they are with the horses. Seeing as your family are barrel racers, I know it’s not the tradition, but helmets are such a simple thing and could save lives and/or lifelong disability.

    • Yes, we tend to startle much like a horse. And, as with a horse, that stimilus response is there for a reason…a God-given warning of potential danger…and should not be needlessly ignored.

      And yet, when we’re following the prompting of the Holy Spirit, we can trust Him to see what we can’t and to guide us through whatever dangers lie ahead.

      Thank you, Katie!

      • Yeah, I agree that fear can be a God given response, but it can also be warped by past experiences and “bad thoughts” or awful stories we tell ourselves. I know I can be hypervigilant and that doesn’t always serve me well. Some fears around my book have to do with past experiences. Martha Beck’s work has helped me sort it out, though I don’t always do so well.

        I’m still impressed you stayed on!

        • Yes…that need for discernment to know the difference. Sometimes, it drives me to my knees in prayer, pleading with the Holy Spirit to show me…and He does.

          Yes, I was sort of impressed I stayed on, too. Although I’m still not much of a rider, I look back knowing that if the same thing had happened a year ago I would have been much less prepared for it.

          Thank you, Katie!

  2. I love how we can learn lessons from so many places. My friend was playing with a spider on Saturday, and the spider was aggressively coming back at him every time, not understanding how he was only 1/10000000th the size of the human. Made me think of how I do God…. Great analogy with the horse and Spirit, Joe. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hah! Laughing picturing you as a tiny spider aggressively on the attack…

      I bet God laughs a lot at our attitudes and behavior! 🙂

      Thanks for sharing, Lisa!

  3. Those Isaiah verses are so, so powerful. Because it clearly states there will be fire. There will be waves. But there is also a Savior. A needed reminder today. Thank you.

    • Oh, yes! I love that passage in Isaiah! So many deep promises, without holding anything back regarding the reality of life in this world.

      In fact, I plan to reference the same passage in my next post, from a slightly different angle.

      Thank you, Beth!

    • Oh, that is so true, Denise! Thanks for pointing out that natural tendency toward a double standard…or double vision…

  4. Such a poignant example, Joe. I learn so many lessons from unlikely places and creatures, so I get it 🙂 I love that you were sensitive enough to be aware of the whisperings of the Spirit, to you and through you. It’s good to see you and your words through Unforced Rhythms.

    • “I learn so many lessons from unlikely places and creatures…”

      Yes! Kids, pets, farm animals, wildlife,….

      Yes, it all comes back to the Bible, but the daily ‘unlikely’ places seem to better drive the lessons home…make it more real…

      Thank you for sharing, Amber!

  5. This is a lovely reminder of how gentle and patient God is with us. It’s a great illustration, one I think will stay with me for a little while and give me perspective.

    I’ve ridden a horse just once in my life. It was a very enjoyable experience but very scary too. Beautiful creatures though.

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