For the past few years my father and I have been attending the annual opening day at the Del Mar Race Track. It’s quite a spectacle seeing all the women dressed up sporting their fancy and some very outlandish hats. It’s more about the fashion show than the actual races. When it comes to betting on the races, I have no idea which horse to choose, so my strategy is to look at the horses while they circle the paddock before the race. They are so beautiful! I look for the feisty one or something that stands out, maybe even the unique name of the horse. I have no idea about any of the jockeys, so they don’t factor into my decision. Sometimes I’ll get an old pro chatting me up who ends up giving me a tip or two. It’s all in fun and quite exciting cheering your horse on, especially when it wins or places in the top three, even if I’m only winning 6 bucks, it’s still quite a thrill.
When I was younger, I will never forget when my father took my brother and I to see the 1972 film ‘The Cowboys.’ I believe this was John Wayne’s only film where his character actually gets killed. In fact, Bruce Dern, whose character kills Wayne, was afraid everyone would despise him for killing The Duke. A. Martinez was the young hot stud in the film. Funny, many years later I had the opportunity of meeting Martinez when he landed a role in the ever so popular soap, General Hospital. I produced and directed the launch campaign of him coming to the show. When I met Martinez I shared with him how much I loved the film and so wanted to be a cowgirl, after that. He was so surprised and I think quite impressed that I knew of the film from so long ago and remembered his character. He told his experience of working with the legend John Wayne and how he was a bit intimidated initially, but working with him was such a privilege. Those were the years of movies when westerns were the popular genre. I had dreams of owning my own horse and riding skillfully as a cowgirl. Of course that never quite happened. I’ve gone horse back riding a few times, but I’ve always been so intimidated by them. I think because they are so big and have such strength. Of course, they can sense my fear and take complete control.
Coincidentally, the same week of opening day at Del Mar, I happened to watch the movie ‘War Horse’ and ‘Secretariat.’ The latter film quoted the scripture in Job 39. It was so poignant the way it was used in the movie. I was truly overwhelmed when I later looked up the scripture and read it for myself. Job 39:19-25 Do you give the horse his strength or clothe his neck with a flowing mane? Do you make him leap like a locust, striking terror with his proud snorting? He paws fiercely, rejoicing in his strength, and charges into the fray. He laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; he does not shy away from the sword. The quiver rattles against his side, along with the flashing spear and lance. In frenzied excitement he eats up the ground; he cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds. At the blast of the trumpet he snorts, ‘Aha!’ He catches the scent of battle from afar, the shout of commanders and the battle cry. ‘War Horse’ truly displayed the bravery and strength of the horse. I don’t know why I was so touched by this passage of scripture, but I think because I have such respect and awe for these beautiful creatures of God and then to read how God created them with such courage. When you see horses in the wild or how beautifully they are captured on film, they truly were created to run.
I watched a program on PBS with Martin Clunes (Doc Martin) where he traveled the globe and met with various horse whisperers and trainers to learn how the relationship between man and horse began. They taught Martin how to bond with a horse and basically let the horse know who’s in charge. It was so incredible. Even Clunes was so moved by his experience. How incredible to actually have a horse walk over to you, bow it’s head in submission and become your friend. It was absolutely breathtaking. I would love to have such an encounter. But, what I found interesting is that one of the trainers said that he believes the reason why horses run is because of fear. But, after reading Job, it is quite clear God did not create his horses to fear, but to be fearless.
Proverbs 21:31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord.
Why do I bring all this up about horses? It made me think that it is the same with man. God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and of a sound mind (2Timothy 1:7). We too face battles throughout life’s journey and like the horse, we have to be ready for the battle but ultimately victory is in the Lord’s hands. For the past year, my life has been one battle after another. Pretty much starting with my car accident last October, when I was crushed between three other cars. My car was totaled, but thank the Lord and his angels that I came out of it in one piece. Isaiah 54:17 No weapon formed against you shall prosper. I’ve had so many attacks in various areas of my life, but the greatest battle has been physical. I have always been such an active person, physically in good shape and a strong spirit, but since a year ago, and now fast forward to last month when I underwent spinal surgery, my life has changed considerably. Thank the Lord my surgery was very successful, and now it’s a time of rest to allow my body complete healing. After surgery, I woke up in the recovery room. Now if you’ve ever been in a recovery room, you’ll understand how chaotic it can be. I have such an admiration for the nurses who attend to all the patients. They work so hard and have so much patience. I don’t know how they do it. I was scheduled to go home that same day, but due to the severe pain I was feeling, they kept me in over night. I was in the recovery room all day and was the last one to leave, once my room was ready. There was a moment when everyone else had gone and I was literally the only patient left in the recovery room. I was alone eating my dinner provided by the hospital, and for a brief moment I truly felt alone. Tears were running down my cheeks. It was the first time I actually cried since it was decided I needed surgery, and usually I’m a big weeper. The nurse came over and asked if I was okay. I just said I’m fine and I tend to get emotional and it’s probably the medication. I don’t bring this up for anyone to feel sorry for me or for any of my loved ones to feel bad that they couldn’t be with me, because I did have family visiting, but it was in that moment alone when I felt God’s presence and His love pouring over me. I knew He was with me letting me know that I am not alone, and everything is going to be okay. Of course, this made me cry even more, but these were tears of joy and comfort feeling His presence. I thought to myself, I truly don’t know how anyone can live this life not knowing our Father in heaven. I don’t care who you are, but in this life we will all face a time when we are completely alone, whether it’s after having surgery, or perhaps in the hospital with a terminal disease, or going home at night to an empty house and laying your head on your pillow completely alone, or times when no one seems to be around to hang out with or just to chat with over the phone, or you can even be in a room full of people and feel alone. Whatever the case, a time will come when one feels complete loneliness. This experience of mine being totally helpless in the hospital, truly revealed to me that I will never be alone as long as I know my constant companion, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is with me always and there is a peace that, comes over you that gives such comfort, especially during our times of weakness and loneliness. Hebrews 13:5&6 Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. So we say with confidences, the Lord is my helper: I will not be afraid. It reminds me of that famous poem titled “Footprints” when we only see two footprints, it’s not because God has left us, but it’s then that He is actually carrying us.
I’ve had moments when I’ve asked God and wondered why all this has happened to me. During this season of trials, the message that has resonated throughout is for me to embrace this time of fragility and rest in the Lord, because His word says for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” and Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all who are weary, and I will give you rest. Throughout all of this, I have been so aware of God’s almighty presence and His strength and comfort on a daily basis. God is not the one who inflicts pain and suffering. We have an enemy the devil and he came to kill, steal and destroy our lives. It is pretty much guaranteed that we will go through times of struggles, pain and hardship in this life, but we can either choose to handle it on our own ability, which often fails, or we can choose to take the hand of God and allow him to walk with us and carry us through those difficult times. Another one of my favorite lines from the film ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ is when the Count is at a banqueting table amongst his enemies, and makes a birthday toast to the son of his nemesis and says, “Life is a storm my young friend, you will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shadowed on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome, Do your worst, for I will do mine……”
I get so choked up inside whenever I watch this scene. (Now, that’s the kind of advice every father should give their sons.) But, isn’t that so true of life? One moment we are up and the next we are down. I know, it has been for me. This scene in the movie brings to mind the scripture Psalm 23 The Lord is my Shepard I shall not be in want… verse 5 says: you prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life… Now, that is God’s way of justice and victory! How awesome is that!
Although, it hasn’t been easy times for me, I don’t regret any of it, even having to go through surgery. God put me in the hands of a greatly skilled surgeon, but ultimately God is my healer, and through this experience it has made me so much more aware of God’s presence in my life and that he is my strength and wants me to rest in Him, in the shadow of the Almighty, so He can make me soar on wings of eagles and prepare me for greater heights. Many have told me how brave I was to go through with surgery, but it’s only because my faith is in the Lord. Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Psalm 34:4 I sough the Lord and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. He has guided me and comforted me every step of the way, giving me nothing to fear because my trust is in Him. So, like the horse who runs fearless in battle, we too, with endurance, must run the race set before us keeping our eyes fixed on the prize, on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:1-3)
Psalm 147:10&11 His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse nor his delight in the legs of a man; the Lord delights in those who fear (in reverence of) him , who put their hope in his unfailing love.