The Equestrian Jumping competition is underway in London for the 2012 Summer Olympics. It’s a beautiful sport, with horse and rider moving as one to hurdle obstacles of many shapes and sizes.
With a horse-crazy daughter in the house, we’ve spent many hours at our local stables watching her ride. While she has tried different styles, jumping is her joy. Though I don’t ride, I’ve gained many tips from years of observing her lessons. One is just how important it is for the rider to focus their eyes in the right location. It seems a simple thing, but can have painful consequences if done incorrectly.
Because a horse takes its cues of what to do and where to go from the rider’s body, it’s essential that the rider looks past the jump to where they intend to go. Should they drop their eyes instead and look at the obstacle, a shift will occur in their body position. This shift, though slight and nearly unseen, changes the weight on the animal’s back, along with the rider’s balance. As a result, the horse can easily refuse a jump- stopping suddenly before the standard or passing to the side. Either way, the rider may find themselves on the ground in a blink of an eye, failing completely to overcome the obstacle in their path.
We, too, can find ourselves struggling to overcome the obstacles of life when we drop our eyes from God’s promises and instead look in the wrong direction. Like the Israelites in the wilderness, when we fixate on the immediate circumstances it is easy to become disappointed, frustrated or upset with the situation at hand.
The Israelite’s story holds an important lesson for us. Their attitude in the wilderness caused, what scholars report should be an eleven day journey, to turn into forty years of traversing rough country. Of all those who were led out of Egypt only Joshua and Caleb, those who kept their eyes on God’s promises, were able to enter the Promised Land.
There is no doubt we’ll all face difficulties while on earth. In fact, Jesus was clear in promising that trouble will come. But that wasn’t all that was promised. He tells us we don’t have to go through them alone. When we focus on the problem, we rely upon ourselves and stumble. But when we keep our focus on Him, He carries us across to the other side. It is in faith that we move in tandem with God, able to hurdle obstacles of all shapes and sizes.
Message for the Journey:
Even a well-trained horse will miss a jump when its rider misdirects their eyes. So, too, will the obstacles of life cause us trouble if our eyes are focused in the wrong direction. Just as the rider needs to look ahead, passed the jump, to successfully navigate it, we need to look to our promised future, instead of the trouble of the day, to remain triumphant.
“So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”(2 Corinthians 4:18)