There is a logical progression from tribulation to glory in Paul’s letter to the Romans. Heart’s Desire Ministry in Fort Worth provided a wonderful opportunities for folks to experience the truth of Paul’s words in the arena with horses.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. – Romans 5:1-4
Amazing Grays Ministry shares messages of worthy leadership and how such leadership produces faith that overcomes fear. The Heart’s Desire program involved a very creative obstacle course, three horses, and a couple of dozen men and women.
[The official ministry was dissolved by design in late 2016. The work continues with the ministry nearest.]
Every message in the Bible is true and reduces to a question of faith in the Word and promise of God. The same is true in relationship among humans and between a human and a horse. There’s no better way to discover the simple truth of worthy leadership than with a horse because horses, unlike humans, don’t lie to themselves or to each other.
Applying and Releasing Pressure is the Basis of Faith
People who say it isn’t possible to really know that God exists or interacts with us are unwilling to experience what surrounds them in the natural world and in their own lives. The result is tribulation that leads to anger, anxiety, or aggression – not to glory.
The first obstacle course presented to the Hearts Desire group with poles, barrels, cones, a picnic table, stairs, fence panel lying flat on the ground, a teeter-totter, tarp, and life-size rocking horse seemed pretty difficult. The rules were simple: the lead rope must remain slack between hands and halter, the leader may not touch the horse, and no words could be used.
Surprisingly, both horses made it through with little difficulty. Well, the first one had to have a little help to get through the fence panel, but otherwise the test was easily mastered by all. Since four different leaders made it through without too much trouble it was obvious the “tribulations” of this first course weren’t that significant.
We got a bit more creative.
New Course, New Rules, New Horse
Separating into teams of five, the rules changed, and the new course offered more challenges and more tribulation!
Halters were removed and the loop of my lariat placed around the neck of the first horse. The new rules:
- The rope must remain slack at all times.
- No words may be spoken by any team member.
- No one may touch the horse.
The new course began in the furthest end of the arena from the picnic table and a blue tarp open to about 4 x 8 ft between two PVC poles, creating what looked like a chute on the ground.
Each team had to take their horse from one end of the arena to the other. The leader had to climb to the top of the picnic table and stay there until the horse walked all the way around the table in a complete circle. Once that obstacle was completed the horse had to walk through the tarp chute. That was it. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
Three Signs of Failed Leadership
Leadership has failed and faith is diminished whenever a “follower” exhibits one of three emotions; anger, anxiety, or aggression.
The greatest challenge faced by the first team was getting the horse to move from the starting point. Once they got the horse to try they got through the course with a few defections, re-routes, and several changes in tactics. This horse had a lot of natural confidence and was willing to go along with the program.
The second team had a bit more difficulty. When the second horse became confused he tried to quit. As team members applied more and more pressure the horse was forced to react. He moved, although sometimes in the opposite direction and trailed by all five humans. Since the neck rope had to remain slack there were only two options when a horse headed elsewhere: drop the rope or keep with him.
Eventually the second team achieved the goal and it was time to send in the final team.
The third horse was new to the obstacle course for the day. I led her to the starting position, handed the rope to the rope carrier and the team got busy. As the pressure on the horse increased so did her anxiety. Team members saw the problem and began talking to each other, trying to head off an escape.
I called out to the team,
“Remember, no words!”
“The rope must stay slack.”
Other teams were reminded of the rules during their work, but this team was facing a bigger challenge and – as is the habit with humans – we break the rules.
Too Much Pressure Kills Perseverance
The gray mare’s anxiety level surpassed her willingness to stay and play with the team. She tried to leave the field of battle to escape the pressure that killed her desire to continue trying – to persevere.
The leader pulled on the rope to stop her from leaving them behind and I called out to put the slack back into the rope! He yelled back, “I had to hold on!”
“You had to break the rules?”
Training the horse morphed quickly into working with the folks. Once the team learned to listen to the horse, fix the mess they’d made, and regain her trust, they moved forward to a successful conclusion.
Lessons Learned in the Obstacle Course
- Become aware of crutches in relationships. In this case it was the halter and lead. Familiarity isn’t the same as communication and relationship.
- Success is the result of slow, quiet, and precise intention and communication.
- Horses are all about forgiveness and giving grace. It’s possible to regain lost trust as long as you STOP doing what you did to lose it. Think. Regroup. Offer what the horse needs, not what you want NOW.
- Breaking the rules is always about us. When the rules get in the way of our desires, c-r-a-c-k. No excuse.
- The race is won when you stay the course with your focus and concern on someone other than yourself.
Questions about faith, fear, and working with obstacle courses? Let us hear from you.
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Have you read Amazing Grays, Amazing Grace – Lessons in Leadership, Relationship, and the Power of Faith Inspired by the Love of God and Horses?