In our love of animals we catch a glimpse of what God wishes for us

Posted by & filed under Grace Notes, Voice of the Vestry.

“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” – Genesis 1:26

By Marian Vermeulen

I have a slight aversion to the description “horse crazy.” While in some senses accurate, the use of the word crazy implies that there is little reason behind an admiration for horses. In reality, I believe there is a very excellent and worthwhile reason, and have no qualms about my lifelong dedication to learning about horses and animals in general.

Marian & horse springtimeWhen God commanded mankind to rule over all of the animals of the world, I think He opened a pathway for us, one that we can follow to gain some slight understanding of His relationship to us, and in so doing, help us achieve a better relationship with him. Working with horses brings me closer to God than anything else I have experienced. As God is sovereign over me, so I must be sovereign over my horse. I must be calm, quiet, and confident. I must make decisions, choose our path, and set boundaries.

Yet the word sovereign has more to it than command, it is also care. I must enforce boundaries through correction rather than punishment, and build trust and love between myself and my horse. Love is an interesting description to use between a horse and a human. A horse can certainly hold affection and love of a sort for a human, yet the love the human has of the horse is deeper, stronger, and more powerful than the horse has the capacity to understand. Just as we will never truly be able to understand God’s wild, magnificent and never ending love for us. Yet when we form truly deep and holy bonds with our animals, I personally believe we can catch the tiniest hint, a reflection, of what it must be like for God as he rules over us, how deep his compassion and how great his leadership.

And in our animals perhaps we can also catch a glimpse of what he wishes from us: kindness, trust, innocence, devotion, and an obedience that is freely and lovingly given.

“After all, the qualities required to be good with horses are the same qualities required to be good at life in general… quiet confidence, dependability, consistency, and a willingness not to use force.”  – Mark Rashid, Horse Trainer

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