“My (only) sacrifice (acceptable) to God is a broken spirit.” Psalm 51 V17
“Sustain me with a willing spirit” Psalm 51 V12
A few months ago, I was praying for someone when the word “broken” jumped into my mind. I instantly argued against this because I knew the person was not broken and useless, which I initially associated this word with. But then God gave me the picture of a horse submitting to its bridle, and I realised that this person was going through the process of being broken, just like a horse, but by God.
I was reminded of this again recently when I got to spend time with my family. My Dad was reminiscing about a horse he broke probably about 40 years ago. This one had stuck in his mind as it was a bet. His youngest brother had been complaining about the horse, saying it could not be broken. Sibling rivalry took over and Dad bet that he could. I suspect his patience was greatly helped by this wager!
I have never had much to do with horses so when I think of a horse being broken I mainly think of the patience needed to get it to accept the bridle, and later the saddle. Of course, there is a lot more to it than this. Dad was talking about once he was on the horse and riding it through the countryside. She refused to turn down a lane and this could not be allowed. He tried to turn her in again and she still refused. Then he guided her to go down the lane backwards. Using this tactic, the horse quickly realised that there was no choice about the lane. They were going down it the hard way or the easy. She went in forwards as Dad had wanted all along.
A domestic horse that is not broken fully cannot be useful. It is not fulfilling its purpose in life. In the past, before the combustion engine was fully integrated into our lifestyles, this would have been even more important than today. To be ridden or driven a horse needs to be sensitive to the reins so that it always understands what is required of it. It needs to be obedient to all requests, focused and quiet. Not easily frightened or stressed. I am sure you can spot the comparisons here between a well broken horse and a person walking closely with God.
But how often do I fall down on these behaviours? Too stressed out to hear what God actually wants me to achieve in the day. Too distracted to feel His small nudges. How often has he tried to back me down the lane of freedom while I stubbornly stood in unforgiveness?
This reminds me of another family conversation, but this time at my brother’s farm. Their horse, Monty, had suddenly started refusing to go in the horsebox and therefore was not fulfilling all that was expected of him. He had been spooked when he lost his footing going around a corner, and who can blame him? They were talking about the addition they would need to put in the horsebox to prevent this happening again, but also the time and patience they were going to have to put into training Monty to go back into the horsebox.
He was already broken. He was useful and fulfilling his purpose, but then he went backwards. Sound familiar? How often do we need more patience from God because we have gone backwards? How often do we need to show humility and let the Lord teach and guide us just to get us back to where we were?
I pray that I retain a willing spirit to be submissive to God.
By Rosalind Singleton