Psalm 32:8-9 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you.
Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.
The Japanese indicates by the grammatical construction that this is the Lord speaking. I agree that is how we should understand this, and as such it is both comforting and fairly stern. God’s promise of instruction and guidance is wonderful, but we have to come to Him to receive it. It is a truly exceptional horse that can be ridden without any equipment. Such horses do exist, but they have been very thoroughly trained, and they have an exceptional bond with their trainer. God seeks that kind of bond with us, for our blessing and His glory. Our first response to any and every situation should be to go to God, but often it is not, and God has to use various things to get our attention. Some of those things don’t seem very pleasant! The better we learn to hear and respond to His spoken commands, the less He will need to pull on the reins or use the whip. Horses that are well domesticated do come when called, because they know the source of the oats, apples, and carrots that delight them. As the Bible says clearly, every good and perfect thing we receive comes from God (James 1:17). The better we understand that, the quicker we will be to respond when God speaks to us.
I have certainly had my mule-like moments with God. Some lasted rather too long to be called moments! I have had to endure His chastening, and that hasn’t necessarily been pleasant. As a pastor, not only do I need to keep watch over my own responsiveness to God, I need to foster such responsiveness in the flock. I cannot change anyone directly, but I can encourage and admonish, as well as provide an example of how it’s done. However, I must remember that how they respond is ultimately between them and God, and is not a burden I should carry even if I could. I indeed should pray for them, as Samuel (1 Samuel 12:23) and Paul (Ephesians 1:16 and many more) realized, even with tears at times, but I am not to receive their failures as mine. At the same time, I must be quick to recognize and acknowledge my own failures, continuing to press into God at all times, so that I may be the son and disciple that He desires.
Father, thank You for yesterday. It had many highlights. Thank You particularly for my students who showed up for the service. I pray that this wouldn’t be a one-shot thing, but would snowball for the salvation of the whole school. Thank You for the counseling opportunities You gave me, both scheduled and unscheduled. May I always speak Your truth in love, so that those who hear me may be drawn to You. Thank You for growth in communication in various areas. May we as individuals and as a church be more and more responsive to You, doing Your will on Your schedule, for our blessing and Your pleasure and glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!