Change of Heart
Are you just another animal following the herd?
We have a beautiful Percheron-Belgian gelding we named Leonardo da Vinci. His mama we named Mona Lisa. What would you expect, when they are working for Rembrandt Tree Care. Leonardo is the ideal work horse, about 1500 lbs, not too hard to get on and ride, thick stout legs, and short pasterns. He is also the bully, being the biggest. You've heard about the pecking order, well Leonardo has been at the top ever since he outgrew his mother. What do you do with a bully? This is just the natural order of things in the wild. So, what do you do with the tyrant? He has to learn his manners, right? Should you try and bring him down a notch or two? When I throw out their hay he kicks all the others away. Obviously he doesn't care if they starve. What do you think?
This reminds me of a story about Abraham Lincoln. In the middle of the war and all of the perplexities he had to deal with, one of the most powerful and belligerent governors came with a lot of baggage. No one wanted to deal with him and they reluctantly let him see the president. After he left in a couple of hours one of his cabinet members said, "How did you handle that guy?" or something to that effect. Lincoln said, like he almost always did, "Let me tell you a story." Then he went on, "Back in Illinois a farmer found a big windfall in his field. It was too big to move, and too knotty for any good wood, so he just plowed around it. In the last two hours I plowed completely around governor so and so."
You never want to get in a fight with a horse, if you do, your going to lose! Horses are so much stronger and tougher than we are, and they have a tremendous capacity to access adrenalin, which makes them even ten times stronger. This reminds me of the old saying, "Sometimes it's a noble thing to fight evil, but this is not our job, our task is to bring more light." It's usually better to avoid the confrontation and redirect things, plow around so to speak. At the same time look for opportunities to enlighten the situation.
Horses do learn manners and respect, but they learn them from being around you, and your conduct. Sometimes you feel like cracking them over the head with a two by four. You can't retaliate. You can imagine what kind of a wild monster you would have after that. Too many raise their children like a tyrant and permissive at the same time, then they wonder what happened, when their kids start to turn into teenagers and there is a constant battle.
I've found I have to respect the bully and his position. In fact I give our relationship first priority. He's my best horse! I throw the hay to him first. Then I go around him. I spread the hay out in 6 or 7 piles. This gives the other two plenty of room to eat. There's nothing Leo can do to stop them. He soon gives up chasing them back and forth. Yes there are better ways to deal with the bullies. This goes along with the old axiom, "If you have bad blood to deal with in your community, the only solution is for stronger men to exercise their superior mental and spiritual ability, not just their physical strength." As soon as it becomes a physical contest, you ultimately have war!
Horses are creatures of habit, so are people. My Dad spent his life riding and training competition horses. He was an urban cowboy. Grew up in Los Angeles. He was good friends with Charlie Sampson, the first Negro world champion bull rider. Charlie grew up in the Watts district of L.A. The slum you might say. He started getting involved in rodeo to get away from the gang violence. Dad left Harbor City where he grew up there, on the same night of his high school graduation. He went to Nevada for many years. I was born near Lake Tahoe California on the Nevada border. Then he went to Idaho. I worked with him in Boise in the plumbing and excavating business, in the summers from 1969 to 1973. He lived exactly in the middle of Montana until he died, but he went back to the L.A. area in the winters. Harbor City is not far from Rolling Hills, which at that time was rated as one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country. They have more miles of bridal paths than they do streets and alleys. You can ride forever, all the way down to the beach, whatever. Don Germain was one of those self made men that could do anything he put his mind to, and do it better than most. EVERYONE else was an idiot. One of his favorite things to do there in the city was to impress the city slickers. When he was done riding every evening he knew exactly what his horses would do. There were often spectators who came to see real horses and riders. After he undressed the horses he would turn them out and yell, "Now, go roll in the dirt." (they were hot and sweaty) then he would say, "Now, go get a drink." Then, "Now, go eat your food." Of course some people were totally amazed that his horses understood English!
There's more to life than just learning. More even than always changing in the right direction. There has to be more even than just being a good person. Being a good person doesn't cut it. You need a change of heart. It doesn't matter how good or proficient you are, without the Holy Spirit, you are just pretending. In fact your proficiency could be dangerous. What good is it to be "....rich and increased with goods." if you are lost? Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor, for their's is the kingdom of God." Without the simple faith of a child, we are just another animal.
The best trained world champion horse, is still just a horse, and only thinks about his own survival. Animals can learn manners, and tricks and even how to serve their master. There's a real irony here though, they are not sinners. Without a change of heart, people can be much worse than animals, thanks to the sin problem.
Here is a paraphrase of one of Mark Twains parables. "Do you know the difference between a dog and a man? If you take in a dog and give him all the privileges he never dreamed of, then you put him back out, because you realize he's just always gonna be a dog. HE DOESN'T BITE YOU !!! This is the difference between a dog and a man.
Do you know the real difference between us and animals? We were made in God's image. What difference does that make? The only picture God has given of Himself is the Ten Commandments. This tells us the difference. Jesus was the embodiment of the Law. What does it say? "Always put God first and always think of others." This requires the faith of a child. In fact Jesus said, "...except you become as a little child, you will in no way enter the kingdom of heaven."
This brings us to the real question. Are you really successful or are you just a good performer? Have you got it all together, or are you just an actor? Are you really a good person, or are you just doing a good job of pretending?
Without a change of heart you are not a good person, you're just a good animal. That is always fatal.