The whole nation has been caught up in this George Floyd tragedy, while I confess, I have been focused more myopically on my own little world…and that’s bothered me.
I just had a baby. Well, I didn’t have a baby…my horse did, but my horsey-friends understand it when I say I had a baby. My first baby in over 30 years. He’s flashy. This beautiful, high-stepping bay colt with four matching white socks and a quirky little off-centered star that’s resembles a setting crescent moon and what looks like a white paint stripe sloppily dashed on right down his nose. He’s a cross between an Arabian and a Rocky Mountain. For those of you who knows horses, you can imagine how he moves—a lot of lift and action in those front legs of his. I think it’s because he is so flashy and high stepping and full of personality in the front end, that it was easy to overlook that something was wrong with his back end.
He ran around and pranced and jumped in the air, delighting everyone with his antics, but I was concerned that something was wrong. I mean, I didn’t know for sure. I hadn’t really done this before. I was just a kid the last time, too young to remember much and my mom was looking out for things that time. I could tell something wasn’t right about his back legs, but they all come out a little wonky and crooked anyway. I asked a friend on day two, “How long until his legs straighten out?” “Oh, it takes a couple days, and look – he’s running around great! He’ll be fine!” was, more or less, her quick reply. I didn’t want to be that mom, the one who panics over every little detail because it’s their first time and they don’t know better, so I stuffed my concerns. I should’ve clarified my concerns a little, and sent a video that showed what I was seeing, versus the one of him running around at a distance where you couldn’t see the issue. I also should have clarified just how many days I should wait before I should be concerned; it was already a “couple” of days in after all. But I was determined not to over-react and so I thought I’d just wait a few more days. All the while, my concern was growing and his legs weren’t growing straighter.
I casually mentioned my concerns to a few onlookers and friends, most of whom didn’t really know horses. No one really saw what I was worried about. He’s fine! He’s running around; look at him! He just spent 11 months in a womb, of course it’ll take a few days for him to straighten out—I wouldn’t worry about it. It was true, you could see from the way his legs were bent how he must have been folded up in her belly.
By day five I reached out to my friend again, “Exactly how long should it take for those legs to straighten out?” Her response was different this time. She told me to get him to a vet. “It usually only takes like two days. I’m sorry; I should’ve realized the last time you left a message, it was already two days. You know horses and if you’re concerned, you should trust your gut and take him to a vet.” I got an appointment a few days later.
As I was waiting for the appointment, watching my baby with the crooked legs and wondering if I’d ever be able to ride him, the riots were going on all around me. A dear friend of mine was in tears every time we talked, totally wrecked over tragedy of George Floyd’s death. My friend was praying and asking God, “What can we do? What can I do?” I was asking the same question, but I confess, I asked it more often about my horse than I did the brokenness in our nation. And that bothered me.
I was praying about it in my journal.
People around me are weeping for racism and conflict in our country, and I’m weeping about the baby horse. It seems so less, Lord. I want a better heart. I want to care more for the things that break Your heart. Which doesn’t mean caring less about the baby or any of the things on my heart, but more for things beyond that.
As I was praying about this, I began to see some parallels. God answered my prayers by showing me a connection between my horse and our nation.
It strikes me, my beautiful baby is a symbol of the nation. Beautiful. Flashy. Healthy in so many ways. And because of that, and because his front end is so flashy and he moves fast and big, it’s easy to miss the brokenness. But he’s crooked in the back end, where the power comes from. It’s debilitating, or it will be if not corrected. He can’t function like this as he was intended to. Won’t carry the load he’s meant to bear. Won’t have the speed or the agility… But so many people have assumed, “Oh, he’ll be fine. It’ll sort itself out with time.” I hoped it would. But some issues won’t fix themselves. Sometimes we need help. Outside help.
He needs a vet. Our world needs the Great Physician. We’ve spent too long hoping time would heal. Hoping things would naturally sort themselves out. It hasn’t happened.
And frankly, with this baby, the longer we wait, the more he learns to be crooked, learns that crooked is natural. The more he learns coping skills which become ingrained… the more true health and balance and rightness will feel un-natural, not right.
I fear we (in our nation) have grown so accustomed to brokenness and imbalance that it actually feels right and natural to us.
Lord help us. We will never be the people, the body of Christ, the nation, the world we were created to be if we don’t let You heal our spine, the hidden places that are broken, tweaked, off-balance, out of alignment with Your will, heart and law.
Show me, Lord. Adjust me.
A week and a day after he was born, we got some answers. He’s “windswept.” A perfect name for the condition—that’s exactly what it looks like. It looks like the wind has blown so hard his legs are swept together. He has an 85% chance of healing naturally if I rehab him right. (And if he doesn’t, surgery is a possibility as well.) His treatment? Rest. First and foremost, rest.
Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man but in the end it leads to death.” This is what I have been pondering as I think about the doctor’s advice, because I had been doing it all wrong. I wasn’t resting his little legs, I was working them. I’d heard his legs would get straighter as they got stronger, so we were encouraging him to run around even more. All my efforts to help him were actually hurting him, exacerbating the problem. The two responses that came naturally to me, to do nothing, wait and see, and to work harder and do something…both of those were unproductive responses at best, counterproductive at worst.
I fear this is what I’m seeing in our nation as well. We have thought that because we did away with slavery, the issues of racism would heal themselves in time. They haven’t. Clearly. Then, when something flares up, like it has with George Floyd, our impulse is to do something. Riot. Protest. Stand in solidarity. Just something… anything. We are all asking ourselves and each other, “What can we do?” And then we do whatever we find to do because it feels good to be doing something. Because our hearts are in the right place, the place of wanting to do something, wanting to fix a wrong, heal that which is broken.
Jesus came to heal what was broken. When we want to heal the broken things, we have His heart. Look at this; it’s the first thing He said about His purpose on earth—He quoted Isaiah 61.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;[a]
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;[b]
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.[c]
4 They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
Doesn’t this perfectly capture our heart for this world of ours and the brokenness we are all seeing around us? Isn’t this the thing we want to be part of? Don’t we just long to repair the devastations of many generations? Yes! Our hearts are all crying out, Yes! The question though is how do we do that?
I don’t have answers to give nor am I wanting to criticize what you or I may have done, but I am going to keep on with this horse-parallel because it’s speaking to me and maybe we can learn from it. It speaks to ideas and ways of thinking more than prescriptive answers, so please don’t take offense as if I’m calling anyone out for the stance they’ve taken. I’m not. I don’t know enough to do that. But I am questioning, just based on what happened with me and my little baby, if possibly our hearts are in the right place, but our actions are not. (If they had been, wouldn’t we have seen more progress to date?) There is a way that seems right to a man… remember? Of course, we all assume our responses are right. And I do believe we usually have right intentions. Just as I did with the baby.
It took the vet to set me straight. I had to go see her, spend time with her. Talk to her about the problems I was seeing and get her advice. The solution was beyond me and my experience. She didn’t say to exercise or power through it or strengthen up his muscles. She said he needed rest. LOTS of rest. So, he and his mama are cooped up in a small space for several days. This is hard advice for me and for him. I want to do something. I want to train and work with him and watch him frolic about… He wants to run and jump and play. This is not fun advice. And I doubt his mama likes it much either, being cooped up with a nursing and pesty baby and not able to move about. The problem is (as I understand it anyway,) that the tendons in one of his back legs aren’t ready to bear the load of his body yet and when they get too much use they bow out. They need rest and time to get stronger and move properly before they have to carry so much weight. So the activity I was encouraging him to do, the “get stronger through work and exercise” approach, was making it worse.
I wonder if there’s something to be learned in this for our nation. Maybe what we need isn’t more activity, protests, demonstrations, etc. We definitely need to take time to search the Lord and ask Him what we should do. He is the great physician and He knows how to heal our nation. But what if what He told us was something more like what the vet told me for my horse. Take time to rest. Get in small spaces with others and be still with them. Don’t just do nothing; rather spend time in rest and stillness. A few verses come to mind.
- For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
“In returning[c]and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)
- 14 If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
- 5 Trust in the Lordwith all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
There are more, so many more, but you get the point. If we want our nation healed, if we want things to be better, if we want true racial reconciliation…we have to go to the Great Physician and ask for His help. We have to get His understanding, His prescription, and let go of all the things that make sense to us. We have to forsake our own understanding and humble ourselves under His perfect wisdom. I’m not sure what He’ll prescribe but I have a strong suspicion it may start with a strong dose of rest and repentance. And I do know this, that like my little horse, our nation may look good to outsiders, but for those of us who have eyes to see, the brokenness is in the back end where the power comes from. There is a misalignment, a wrong movement that is crippling us and we will never be all that we could be until that is righted.