No great relationships happen by accident or luck.
Regularly people say to Baber or me, “Oh, if only I had a horse like Bo. You are so lucky.” Others may ask if he is for sale; they want what I have. The truth is they don’t want Bo per se; they want a relationship with their horse like I have with Bo.
Have you ever looked at a father and son who were so obviously connected to each other that you wished you could have had a father like him or that your son would be like this one? We may think, What a different path my life would have taken if I had a parent like that one. When you see a long-married couple still holding hands after fifty years of laughter and heartbreak, so obviously in love with each other that the line between them is but a blur, do you lament that you weren’t blessed with a husband like him or a wife like her? How lucky they are. Why wasn’t I as fortunate?
The Value of Relationship Role Models
It may be an easier path for parents and their children to build strong bonds when they have been blessed with great role models. If your parents taught you how to be both humble and strong, you have far better odds of success raising your own children. Whether you look for that great spouse, wonderful children, or a horse like Bo, in each instance what you long for is not the person or the horse, but the special relationship you have witnessed.
The basics of building a special relationship between horse and trainer apply to creating successful relationships with children, in marriage, friendships, with teachers and their students, and any other relationships you pursue. You are better able to appreciate the possibilities of great relationships by observing the remarkable relationships others share. The most important relationship, of course, which serves as the cornerstone of all others, is the relationship you have with Jesus Christ.
Mysteries of Relationship
Understanding relationships is not a simple matter. The concepts that apply to relationships are like most others we learn throughout our lifetimes. They are only mysteries until the moment when the light bulb of understanding begins to glow. How do we find the right partners for relationships? How do we build proper and strong foundations? How do we move from concentration on stuff and self and move to having eyes only for Jesus Christ?
Like anything else, the journey begins with the first step. Chapter six of the book of Matthew is a great primer for beginners as well as a wonderful reminder for those already well into the relationship process.
A relationship with God has built-in prerequisites similar to those we encounter in higher education. Students are unable to understand more complex material without first learning the basics and building a foundation of knowledge.
How do we begin to build foundation and grow our relationship with Jesus Christ? Through His Word. And how are we to pray? The Lord’s Prayer is found in the sixth chapter of Matthew. When all else fails, this prayer covers all the issues you will encounter in life. Are you concerned that you just aren’t prepared or that you don’t have enough foundation? In this same chapter, Jesus also warns about the futility of worry. As you consider the process of building a right relationship with God, I encourage you to concentrate on Jesus’ lessons in Matthew 6.
Reflexive Behavior and Unspoken Testimony
As you progress in a relationship you will begin to understand why concentration on anything other than the relationship itself is but a distraction. You will begin to understand Matthew 6:3, when your actions begin to be generated by the relationship you share with Jesus Christ and not by conscious thought, debate, or intent. The charitable deed described in verse 3 is done unconsciously, just like breathing.
It is an automatic action, not a calculated deed. The doing of charitable deeds becomes so familiar that you don’t realize you have even done one. This automatic response begins by building habits of task and progresses until the mastery of tasks is replaced with the habit of obedience. When habit of obedience is reached, the limit of what is possible in a relationship expands to presently unknowable levels. **
The relationship I have with Bo, when noticed by other horse owners, initiates conversation about our horses. Those conversations are my best opportunity to influence the future success of the relationship the inquiring horse owner has with his or her own horse. If I were to call a meeting to share my relationship testimony using words alone, there might be precious little benefit to anyone.
How Can You Serve as a Relationship Role Model?
The most important step in sharing my story is the notice and subsequent inquiry of the observer. The cliché, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” is true in testimony. What is seen has a far greater impact than what is preached, and what is seen of us must always live up to what we preach.
Until I learned this lesson, I was always unsure of how I could possibly present Christ to another person. It seemed all the other Christians knew how to share. I did not. My gray horses are the key to my understanding that all I need do is present the benefits of this chosen relationship to seekers who inquire.
I’ve been doing that for many years with people who look for better results with their horses. It is not “me” that causes a person to inquire about my security, joy, peace, and success. It is not my security, joy, peace, or success they want. What they want is their own relationship with Jesus Christ. Bo is not special in any way their horse is not. I am not special in any way they are not. What is special is the relationship I share with Bo, and my relationship with Jesus.
Who has most positively influenced your life? Was it a person who stood upon a stage and gave you a laundry list of things to do? Did you really get your money’s worth from that expensive set of tapes telling you how to achieve happiness or wealth with little to no effort? Or have you been most greatly blessed by the people who are simple and authentic in their speech, manner, and message?
The One Relationship Everyone Desires
Our lives can go along in an orderly, contented manner, without our even knowing what we are missing without transformative relationships. Once we have experienced them, however, we are never truly satisfied until we find them again.
God created us to be in relationship with Him. There is a part of our souls, our hearts, which will always be empty unless filled with Him. There is no other relationship that can take the place reserved for God alone. Once you taste relationship with Him the empty place begins to fill. In John 14, Jesus promises to prepare a place just for us. There is a place today with your name on it, a relationship with Jesus Christ that will forever fill that empty place. He has also prepared a place just for you when you go home to Him. I know the joy I received preparing a place for my grays, Bo and Swizzle. Imagine how much more Jesus has done in the place He has prepared exclusively for you.
Excerpted from Amazing Grays, Amazing Grace – 2nd Edition, full text is found on pp131-135, 269
** Habits of Task and Obedience are discussed at length in Amazing Grays.