Bill, of course, is grown now, but when he was in his teens he started praying and believing God for a horse. Jack and I tried to discourage him because we didn’t want him to be disappointed, but he insisted that God had told him that he would be given a palomino horse that enjoyed being ridden, and that someone would come to know the Lord because of the horse. Skepticism ran a little high in both Jack and me when Bill claimed that the horse would also be an evangelistic tool. It sounded rather manipulative, but it turned out to be quite true.
Somehow God worked it out so that a Christian racehorse breeder in Del Rio, who lived three hundred miles away and who was completely unknown to us, heard about the young man in Brownwood who was believing God for a horse. This horse breeder decided to give Bill a horse as a seed faith offering for something he was believing God for, and he even delivered the horse as he came through Central Texas on his way to Oklahoma. Only Jack and I knew the details that Bill believed God had given him about the mare, so when she arrived Bill was the only one who was not surprised to find that she was a beautiful palomino.
And as you would expect, at the very next church service Bill stood up and told everyone about his blessing from God—and that he had named her “Faith.”
What I didn’t expect was the call I got early the next morning from the mother of a fifteen-year-old girl who was visiting in the church service for the first time when Bill gave his testimony. The mother explained that the father was a new psychiatrist in Brownwood, a confessed agnostic who had so much influence on the girl’s life that she had never been interested in the Lord before.
Out of boredom the girl had gone to church with her mother the night when she heard Bill’s testimony. On the way home she had told her mother, “I can believe in a God like that. He’s real!” Kim accepted the Lord and became one of our most faithful members until her family moved out of town.
Two of the three things that Bill had thought God told him had come to pass. Someone had, in fact, come to know Jesus because of the horse (in spite of our skepticism), and Faith was a beautiful palomino. But the mare did not like to be ridden at all! Lord, why? It wouldn’t have been any harder to give Bill a horse that liked to be ridden—would it?!
Faith Fights Back
Faith would do anything in her power to get the rider off her back. Standing straight up on her hind legs and doing a little dance until she dislodged her excess baggage was one of her favorite tricks. At other times she would take off like a streak of lightning, hoping to encourage her frightened passenger to bail off. Confusion filled my mind as I felt pulled between fighting thoughts of disappointment and, on the other hand, remembering the miraculous way in which she had been given to Bill. The straw that broke the camel’s back came on the afternoon when one visitor, even though she had been warned, couldn’t resist the temptation to try out her riding skills. She stayed on longer than most, but came out of the saddle just as Faith rounded a corner in the pasture, throwing her head first into a huge corner fence post. One frightening night in the hospital later the girl was okay, but all we could think of after that was trying to talk Bill into selling the mare.
In spite of the no horse-riding rule, Bill steadfastly refused to give up his prized possession from God. She made a nice, gentle pet as long as you weren’t on her back, but the fact still remained that God had told him that he would be given a horse that liked to be ridden.
One day Bill came in to tell us that God had told him to have the mare bred. My first thoughts were, “Oh, no, more problems!” Instead, once we’d gone ahead it quickly became obvious that the new colt was the horse that God had been planning for Bill. That colt, Jim Dandy, loved Bill from the moment he was born. When it came time to saddle break him for riding, Jim Dandy never even attempted to buck—not even once.
Years later, when Bill would come home from college, after months of Jim Dandy’s not being ridden, Bill could throw on a saddle and ride him all over the pastures as though they had never missed a day. Every time I would see them dashing through the fields together, tears would fill my eyes and all I could say was, “Lord, You are so good!”
Truly the time came that we were not disappointed! But as I said, sometimes God’s answers do come in progressive steps, and we have to keep our trust and our faithfulness on Him during that interim period when it can feel as if we’re groping through a dark tunnel. But if we keep trusting, His Light will always shine through when He knows the timing is right.
-Peggy Joyce Ruth
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