This story is absolutely true… My father’s older brother – my uncle – wanted to be a great architect and, although he was from a small town in South Dakota, he left home to study at a fancy school “out East.”
Discovering that most of his fellow students were from the upper-classes, he quickly began to feel very much on the outs as the country bumpkin. He couldn’t play tennis; he didn’t know how to golf or play bridge, so when it came to the finer social activities, he was left out. He desperately wanted to “belong” so one day, at a fancy country club, he knew he had his big opportunity.
As my uncle was following a group of his school mates, a screaming young girl on a runaway horse rushed away from the stables. He thought, “Finally, something I know how to do… I’ve been riding since I was a kid. I’ll show these snobs what riding is all about and save the girl to boot.” Looking around, he saw a horse grazing quietly next to the riding club and took off at a dead run, yelling, “I’ll save you.” He confidently sprinted up to the horse, placed both his hands on its rump and vaulted up onto the horse’s back grabbing its mane in a single movement. Thinking this looked like it was right out of a movie scene, my uncle was confident he’d be seen as a real hero by his classmates and finally be accepted into their social circle.
It turns out that the horse was a very old, very gentle child’s riding horse that had been put out to pasture a long time back and as this big man ran up, slapped its rump, landed full on its back, and screamed “HEYAH!” it was too much. In shock, the old horse passed gas and died where it stood – leaving my uncle sitting on a stinking, dead horse with its mane still clutched in his fists. So much for playing the hero!
I’ve been thinking that every time I perceive a circumstance that I believe I can handle in my own strength and with my own abilities, I end up sitting on a stinkin’, dead horse.
This happened to Israel. God had been showing them His wondrous power by defeating the enemies of His people… against huge odds God had provided victory over Jericho. Obviously it was totally God – but Israel got cocky. One day Joshua sends some spies to look at a little town called Ai. The story is recorded in Joshua 7:2,3.
Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and said to them, “Go up and spy out the land.” So the men went up and spied out Ai. They returned to Joshua and said to him, “Do not let all the people go up; only about two or three thousand men need go up to Ai; do not make all the people toil up there, for they are few.”
In other words, the spies said, “Ai is just a little town. We can handle this battle. Let’s just send a few guys up there and we’ll defeat ‘em.” So, trusting in their own military ability they attacked and ended up sitting on the dead, stinkin’ horse of defeat. Look at Joshua 7:4,5.
So about three thousand men from the people went up there, but they fled from the men of Ai. The men of Ai struck down about thirty-six of their men, and pursued them from the gate as far as Shebarim and struck them down on the descent, so the hearts of the people melted and became as water.
When it comes to being used of God for anything, even the smallest service or ministry, I must always remember NOT to rely on my own talents and abilities, because without Christ I’m nothing and able to accomplish nothing.
Jeremiah 9:23 sums it up for me,
Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches…
It’s not what I know (wisdom) – it’s not what I can do in my strength (might) – it’s not what I have (riches). The only thing you and I have for successfully living the Christian life is summed up in the next verse Jeremiah 9:24…
but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.
Do you notice who does the “exercising” in that verse? That’s right – God does it all. I can only rejoice and glory that I know God personally through His son, Jesus.
If you ask me how I’m going to accomplish something in my life, my answer will be Philippians 4:13 and ONLY Philippians 4:13…
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
NO DEAD, STINKIN’ HORSES FOR ME! How about you?
Think about it….