Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4 (NIV)
Trucker is taking to his driving lessons. He knows how to go right and left. He whoas on command and stands quietly when we stop. He can walk in a circle and even can do a u turn and head the opposite direction. He is doing so well that we have started working outside the pasture on the road around the island. Each night, we walk several miles and journey far from home. People stop us to ask why I am walking behind my horse instead of riding. They want to know what our unusual behavior is all about. I tell them to watch for us in a couple of weeks and see. In my mind, I already visualize what it will be like to ride along in luxury behind him. However, although he is learning to drive, there is another lesson he must learn. He must learn to leave his barn friends and venture away from home alone. After a serious accident five years ago, I made a vow never to ride alone again. Since that time, whenever we ride, it is always with a buddy at our side. Now, I am asking him to leave the safety of the herd and his comfortable home and go out into a world that looks very strange to him when he is alone. Periodically, he stops, turns to look in the direction from which we came and whinneys for his friends. It is a lonely call that sounds both sad and fearful. I urge him forward, talking to him and encouraging him to “Walk On.” He does as I ask, but a little while later, calls again. I have to keep continual watch that he will not decide to head for home at a trot leaving me pulling on the reins to set him back forward again. Sometimes, he twists around in his angst and tangles up the lead lines. I stop and weave them out from around his legs. Bicyclists, garbage cans, lawn mowers all affect him differently when I am walking behind him and not on his back. Once, he jumped straight up in the air for seemingly no reason. Oh, how he wants to go back to his cozy stall and nice plump hay bag! Every night though, he walks a little farther and with a little more confidence. He is learning that there is nothing to fear. Horses cannot see what is behind them, but he is learning that even though he cannot see me, I am still with him. If he listens, he will hear me urging him on and reassuring him that he can go forward. Sometimes God calls us to places where we would rather not go. It may be the valley of the shadow of death or it may be just a little ways away from where we feel comfortable and safe. Yet, no matter where we go, He is with us. And with that knowledge, like Trucker, we can walk on.