By Betsy Kelleher
Did you ever hear someone’s words echoing in your head—making you wish you had asked what that person specifically meant by those words? Soon after getting my first horse, I happened to watch a blacksmith demonstrating his work. I talked to him about my mare, Fanny, and about my grandfather who had also been a blacksmith before becoming a farmer. This man who never knew my grandfather told me, “Your grandfather traveled expectantly.” His choice of words seemed unusual and very intriguingly prophetic. I have pondered those words ever since.
Recently, our pastor preached about having a good attitude. He recommended having a passion for life, and believing that God rewards those who seek Him. He mentioned how farmers plant crops and anticipate a good harvest. Since I was raised on a farm, I understood his point. And I remembered that blacksmith’s words. Grandpa expected a good harvest from his labor. If it didn’t happen, however, Grandpa would say that God has always taken care of us, and we’ll take the bad with the good. He trusted things would work out sooner or later, and he kept on doing his part, giving it his best.
Not all of us are expecting a profitable harvest, but I know I’m happier when I can look forward to something. An event, perhaps, like the Illinois Horse Fair in early March! Or just going to the barn to ride. Usually, our riding has a goal, whether competition or trail riding. A man who boarded a horse at our stable once told my husband that our horses keep us alive. A few months after he lost his horse, we lost him. There’s always more to the story, but we do better when we have a goal to keep us going. Our horses are often at the heart of our goals.
I normally prefer the New International Version for Scripture references, but for Proverbs 29:18, the King James Version says it best. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Our horses may be the inspiration for many visions.
One example is Bettina Eistel, a German woman born with no hands because of Thalidomide (the drug they gave to pregnant women before knowing it caused birth defects). She started horseback riding as a youngster. Can you imagine her parent’s fears? And what about her own? I believe she has a positive attitude that doesn’t give up easily. According to information circulating the internet, she has won more than a dozen medals in dressage in paralympic competitions. She can saddle and bridle her horse using toes and teeth. She rides holding the reins in her mouth, steering with her legs, and wears boots with the toes cut out. She can hose down her horse, groom him, blanket him, wrap legs, and do almost anything that needs to be done. Can you imagine how special her horse must be? His name is Fabuleax 5. I would like to know how long it took her to train this horse to work with her the way he does. She has written a book about her journey, but it is in German, not yet available in English. One cannot help but marvel at what this woman has accomplished without hands. I believe she travels expectantly toward a vision that has given her an unbelievable triumph!
While working on this column, I woke up one morning with the thought: “We need to look forward to something from God!” And I started a list of things: guidance, blessings, encouragement, help, strength beyond my own, provision, healing, teaching, forgiveness and mercy, a new beginning each day, a listening ear, compassion, intimacy, and a joyful forever. Even the obstacles we face can become blessings when we have an expectant attitude. Grandfather’s example taught me that when we expect God’s favor, we should be willing to wait for His blessings. Whenever I focus on His power and His will instead of my problems and worries, there is a change in my attitude.
We can travel expectantly because we have a living hope in God’s Word and faith that He will do what He has said He will do. For instance, Romans 8:28 assures us “that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”
So here we are, beginning the second month of a new year. What visions are we pursuing? Remembering all that God has done for me in the past, I want a passionate faith that keeps me moving forward in spite of disappointments. I want a vision that gives me purpose and meaning and something to live for. I also know that I am unable to accomplish much in my own strength, but I can do all things through the power of the Holy Spirit. I pray that you, too, may travel expectantly and find joy in your success!
(Originally published in the February 2011 issue of the Illinois Horse Network)