Horses & Humanity

“Do you give the horse his might?
    Do you clothe his neck with a mane?
Do you make him leap like the locust?
    His majestic snorting is terrifying.

He paws in the valley and exults in his strength;
    he goes out to meet the weapons.
He laughs at fear and is not dismayed;
    he does not turn back from the sword.
Upon him rattle the quiver,
    the flashing spear, and the javelin.

With fierceness and rage he swallows the ground;
    he cannot stand still at the sound of the trumpet.
When the trumpet sounds, he says ‘Aha!’
    He smells the battle from afar,
    the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.”

Job 39:19-25

A brief introduction…

As a child, I would spend hours flipping through the horse encyclopedia my older sister had in her bedroom, tracing with gentle touch the defined curves of the majestic creature’s body. I marveled at the diverse sizes, shapes, and colors of the animal. In my imagination, I’d populate my own ranch with my favorite breeds, assigning each horse a name I had collected in a long list.

If I wasn’t looking through the encyclopedia, and I was reading a book involving horses, playing horse computer games on our old Dell laptop, or daydreaming about horse riding and my future ranch. We had horses that our dolls could ride; my sisters and I would assign the favorites and I would always take the rest for my Barbie’s farm. Even now, I still dream of owning a ranch and taking horseback riding lessons.

Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity of getting on a horse for the fourth or fifth time in my life. It was both thrilling, delightful, and terrifying. I was reminded once again of the beauty of these magnificent beings as well as my own smallness. I happened to be riding a herd leader, named Dusty. I could feel the power coursing through the warm blood and the strength surging in the muscles beneath the saddle. Needless to say, I was intimated by this horse and humbled that I could control him with the gentle pressure of my heels.

Some thoughts about the Scriptures…

As I sat atop my trusty steed, I meditated upon the words of Psalm 8.

O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
    to still the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Within two hours of birth, foals can stand, walk, nurse, and trot. It takes human babies a year to start learning how to walk and months to even raise their heads. Foals develop instant communication with their mothers, more impressive in that it’s a silent conversation based on their eyes and body language. In contrast, an infant doesn’t begin talking coherently until age 2, generally speaking.

And yet, despite our frailties and vulnerabilities, the Lord has stamped his image upon mankind, marked us as his own sons and daughters, and called us to rule over the created world. We are “crowned with glory and honor” and have authority over all things. We are kings and queens.

On stewardship…

As the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. We are ultimately responsible to the Creator of the universe for our actions and stewardship of his handiwork. At a simple level, imagine the horror we feel when we see someone treat an animal with unwarranted cruelty. I could have, if I had so desired, disrespected the horse on which I sat in many ways, even just as simple as sending mixed messages and causing confusion.

As image-bearers and stewards, we must honor, protect, cherish, and delight in the creation of our heavenly Father. Crowned by him, we cultivate and care in communion with God so that we can create community and experience shalom. One day, the lion will lie down with the lamb, the child play with serpents. Until then, we allow the Lord to work in and through us to establish his Kingdom and Christ’s reign over a renewed heaven and earth.

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