Tuesday, December 11, 2007

He gives and takes away...Blessed is His name!

Blessed Be Your Name
Matt Redman, Beth Redman
c2002 Thankyou Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)

Blessed be Your name
in the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
blessed be Your name
And blessed be Your name
when I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
And when the darkness closes in Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
when the sun's shining down on me
When the world's "all as it should be"
Blessed be Your name
And blessed be Your name
on the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

You give and take away You give and take away
My heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be Your name

It's been nearly a week now since we lost our third horse, Shantel. Botulism had claimed the life of her barn mates the week before, and we thought that Shantel would be fine. Linda wasn't sure...but I began to think that her life would be spared.

It was not to be. Linda came in, white-faced, on the morning of my 53rd birthday. "Mom, Shantel's down." It can't be, I thought. Quickly phoned Heather, then the vet, then out I went to the barn.

We got Shantel in December of 1993. She was actually our second horse, because we had acquired a little filly named Cadence just a couple of weeks before. Cadence was fine, but Shantel stole our hearts.

She was a beautiful Arabian - Chestnut, White blaze and socks, light on her feet. She floated rather than trotting, and we couldn't get enough of just watching her.

Heather, 15 at the time, began to train Shantel. It turned out she was a stubborn mule with an attitude, unless she was in a good mood. She liked men when she was in heat, but when she wasn't in heat she didn't want them around her. We learned to read her moods, and we loved her just the same.

Heather continued training her, and soon discovered Shantel was very smart. She learned quickly and responded well to leg aids and other cues. The two of them became a team, and Heather soon travelled all over our area on the back of that horse. Shantel was a perfect trail horse. She didn't panic when encountering something new, but waited for Heather's direction.

A few years later we got Chance. He was an older gelding that belonged to my friend, Jane. Jane had some new horses, and we needed a second horse, and the timing was perfect, because Linda was getting to the age where she could safely ride. Not only that, but Chance was the first horse that I ever rode (apart from trail rides on boring horses that just followed the tail of the one in front).

You really need two horses if you're going to have a horse. If one was going out, they both did. Heather and Linda did most of the riding, but I did some, too. I have wonderful memories of riding on trails through the bush near our house. I rode with Linda (she was on Chance and I was on Shantel) and with Heather (she was on Shantel and I was on Chance). Only once, Daniel and I went out for a ride together...but it was great fun.

Last year, Jane gave us Antar, an older gelding. He was skinny when he came, because he was at the bottom of the pecking order in their barn. Linda quickly fattened him up. He was a gentle guy, and very obedient. If she had the gate open, getting water, he would NEVER come through it. If she ever scolded him for anything, he'd hang his head in agreement.

I can't begin to express the joy we had with these horses. Simply looking at them in the field brought joy, especially if they were running and tossing their heads in response to the wind. We'd call them, and they would respond, whinnying and coming over to the fence to see what was up.

And now they are gone.

And now we grieve.

But we do not grieve as people who have no hope. We know that God is in control, and that He is always good.

As Christmas approaches, I have been pondering the life of Joseph and Mary, as they were given the astounding news that a child, conceived in the womb of the virgin, would be the Son of the Most High. You'd think that life would be peachy-keen for Joseph after that. He was graciously raising a son that wasn't actually his, and he was doing so "as unto the Lord", I am sure. God allowed him to be humiliated, along with Mary, in front of his family, friends and community. He did this great thing, and did not put Mary away, but travelled with her to the City of David. Again, that would have been hard. Travelling over rocks and hills is hard enough at the best of times, but with a pregnant woman under your care? Much, much more difficult. I am sure the responsibility weighed heavy on his shoulders.

So, baby Jesus was born, and the shepherds came. The angels sang. Joseph moved his little family to a house in Bethlehem, and along came wise men with gifts, and they bowed down and worshiped the Child. Again, you'd think that because this was surely the Son of God, life would go smoothly. You'd think that God would simply put a huge hedge of protection around them, and that trials would be few.

But wait...Joseph was awakened in the middle of the night by an angel, who told him to flee. He had to get up quietly and take Mary and Baby Jesus, and run for their lives.

It's easy for us to read it in the Bible. We all know it to be true. But just imagine the confusion that Joseph must have experienced. "You want me to WHAT? Herod is going to do WHAT?"

Life isn't easy. It wasn't for Joseph, and it isn't for us. Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time to be born, and a time to die. There is a time for laughter, and a time for mourning.

I do believe that I know a little more about suffering and grief, having lost three beloved horses in less than two weeks. Our loss can't compare to the loss of children, so although I think I know a bit more about what Job went through, I also am aware that there really is no comparison.

God is a good teacher, and He has taught us many lessons:

1. He gives and takes away. All good gifts are from Him, and He knows best when to give them, and when to take them away. We bow to His will.
2. Blessed is His name. He is Almighty God. He is the One who created horses in the first place.
3. He comforts His children. We feel His presence in our hearts, in our homes. We know that the prayers of God's people have sustained us.
4. We are to hold all of our possessions loosely. We don't know how long we will have that horse, that car, that house, that health, that child.
5. We are to have hope. Just because we lost Antar, Chance and Shantel does not mean that life is over. It doesn't mean that we won't ever have horses again, or that we won't ever have joy again. We have learned that God is good, all of the time, and that Hope is to be found in Him, and in Him alone.

Legend has it that Joseph, as he was fleeing to Egypt, lost his donkey. The donkey died on the side of the road, and the little family had to press on without him.

I don't know if that legend is true, but I do know this: the journey was hard. Joseph may have heard the weeping of mothers mourning as the soldiers killed their baby boys while he was climbing the hills in the darkness. He would have been concerned that Mary would keep Jesus quiet on the journey. There were thieves and robbers to avoid, and wild animals to watch for. It wasn't easy.

God never promised us an easy road. But He did promise that He would be with us every step of the way.

And I am here to testify that this is true.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.



Ruth said...

Hi Janet!

What a blessing your post was to me today! That particular song was a comfort to me when we lost our twins. Blessed be the name of the Lord. AMEN! {{{HUGS}}}


Janet said...

Hi, Ruth! It's nice to "see" you here. And I know you know that God is with us, particularly when we walk in those desert places and stumble over rocks in the wilderness.