March 29, 2019
He sure does. Animals played a big part in many events in the Bible. At one time, they tempted. In others, they brought destruction. In some, they brought a message of hope, or forced redirection, spoke warnings and even brought answers.
Here’s a modern-day story about my friend Patti.
Daddy entered my room, smiled, and lifted a shining saddle in the air. “Do you like it?”
He knew a gift for my four-legged friend, Scout, delighted my 10-year-old heart.
I giggled as he bounced the empty saddle on the bed, mimicking a bucking horse.
“Scout will love this,” I said to myself as I carried the treasure the next day.
I entered the barn and found Scout in the back stall, hiding in a shadowed corner. As soon as I drew close, I quickened my steps. The soft dirt pressed under my feet. And the smell of wet hay filled the barn.
But eagerness filled my heart.
“Hey boy,” I said, “look what I have for you!” I swung the saddle up and positioned it on his back. I took a step back and observed his reaction. His wiry legs seemed stronger. He held his head higher and turned from side to side with pride. The colors of the saddle accented his shiny, dark brown hide.
No longer a scrawny, skinny, and scared horse; he was now a strong, radiant warrior ready to defend and conquer in any battle.
And soon, Scout became my warrior, defender, and my confidant. Together we rode over and over across familiar paths. He grew to know me better than I knew myself.
And as we bonded, the passing years faded some of the radiance of that new saddle, but our relationship continued to smooth and deepen just like its beautiful leather. Even at seventeen, I shared my fears and joy only with Scout. No one else listened as he did.
He proved that one afternoon.
Scout grazed peacefully, sun rays stroked his hide and a soft breeze lifted his mane, What a profound contrast to my world. It shook violently in a whirlwind of emotions. The ophthalmologist announced, “There is no cure for this retinal disease.”
I sank in the chair, hoping he would offer some words of hope, but he followed his diagnosis with more dark news instead. “I’m afraid it will eventually take her sight. It’s only a matter of time.” He spoke to Daddy while I listened in horror.
We rode home in silence. Daddy offered his loving comments, but this time none of them drew a smile from me.
Instead, each passing day brought painful evidence of my diminishing peripheral vision. The retinal condition dimmed the light around me and darkened my world.
As my eyesight diminished, so did my desire to enjoy the activities I had loved before.
“Do you need any help picking out your clothes?” Daddy asked in a soft voice one day.
“No, I can do it myself!” I shouted back, unfairly venting my frustration at him. After he quietly walked out, I threw my clothes down, flung myself on the bed, and sobbed. I could no longer distinguish colors or shapes. Coordinating my clothes, a task I used to perform with ease, was now impossible.
“Anytime you need to go anywhere, just let us know,” friends offered. “You know we’re here for you.”
In spite of their support, no one knew the turmoil that shook inside.
But in the midst of that storm, I shared my fear, anguish, and frustration with Scout. When I cried into his neck, he nickered softly and nuzzled my shoulder with his velvet nose.
I sensed his tenderness when I offered up my deepest pain and desperate longing as my life sank into a dark tunnel. I’ll be here for you. I’ll be your eyes, he seemed to say.
Scout was protective of his sightless rider as he galloped more cautiously. Unable to direct his path, I couldn’t guide him around dangerous obstacles. But I trusted him. And he proved more than capable, not only at carrying me around physical dangers, but also at easing me through my sadness.
His protective nature emerged against anyone or anything that threatened to harm me. No one else seemed to know how to take away the sting of living a sightless life.
With each ride he gave me joy, helping me forget my heart’s burdens for a while.
When my friends made plans to see a movie, they added, “You can go too if you want.”
“No, that’s okay, I’ll just go home,” I said.
Holding back hot tears, I made my way across the grass, following the sounds coming from the barn. With careful steps, I found the stall where my loyal friend waited and hugged his muscular neck, feeling the warmth of his body.
Scout stood still, listening to my sobbing whispers.
He understood more than just my words. With a long sigh, I stroked his face with palms wet from my tears. He seemed to cry with me, You’re not alone, I’m hurting, too.
He listened until the time I left for college. Daddy parked the car alongside the fence so Scout could put his head through the car window beside me. As I hugged his neck, our tears mingled once again. We didn’t need words. Like the beautiful saddle I had once placed on his scrawny back, he placed a shining glow of compassion and love on my broken world. Our hearts were forever braided together in a rope of unconditional love. He became my eyes, allowing me to see what sighted people could not. Even when I was unable to express my darkest feelings, he read my heart, sensed my pain, and now, he seemed to cry my tears.
From Janet: God’s comfort comes in many forms—through His Word, through friends and often He uses His creation to speak to our aching heart, our lonely moments and soothes our sadness with quiet comfort.
Father, thank You for Your love so intense that You would use all forms to dry our tears.
Will you be open to what God might use to turn your sadness into a smile?
Did you know I wrote a book filled with words of encouragement, uplifting thoughts and illustrations of real-life triumph to empower you? Its title, Trials of Today, Treasures for Tomorrow: Overcoming Adversities in Life. You can get it HERE.
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