“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9
Since she was old enough to speak, Ella Kate, my 15-year-old daughter, has had a love for horses. Her prize possession, when she was three, was her pink cowgirl boots. One of my favorite pictures of her features her standing in front of a mirror dressed in her little pink boots, pink tutu, and pink cowgirl hat. She loved cartoons that featured horses, books about horses, and she loved seeing horses.
Ella Kate’s passion for horses was great for a little girl. She had toy horses, horse puzzles, and even a horse calendar on her wall, but her love for these majestic animals went only so far. Her passion stopped quickly when she was given the opportunity to ride on an actual horse. I remember being at a friend’s home, preparing for a Christmas event. There were horses present that day and the riders were people that we knew and trusted to allow our little girl to sit in the saddle for the first time. We approached the horses and Ella Kate, about 3 years old, quickly grabbed me and made sure we were aware that she was not ready to ride. She had determined that horses were better to admire in pictures, cartoons, or at least at a safe distance.
The truth is these beautiful animals are large and strong and, to a little girl, they are more terrifying than her dreams had led her to believe. To ride a horse, she would have to leave the firm ground beneath her feet. She would have to let go of her mom and dad’s hands. She would have to trust that this horse was going to treat her with the same love she had for them. Ella Kate was not ready to make that leap of faith and so she missed out on her first horse ride that day.
It was several years later when Ella Kate sat in a saddle by herself. That day, I saw the biggest smile I think I have ever witnessed on this little girl. She was thrilled to have overcome her fear. She was proud of herself and deeply thrilled with the time she spent on that horse that day. Since then, she has gone on several rides including some long trail rides, far from the reach of her mom and dad.
It was fear that first day that caused her to pull back and not experience her dream. She missed out and allowed that fear to define her approach to horses for over six years. I am so proud of her that she finally got in that saddle. The joy she had that first time, the smile on her face, was something we will never forget.
I wonder how many dreams are not fulfilled because of fear? How many visions and aspirations never see fulfilment because we are afraid to let our feet leave the ground? How many hopes and goals have not been attained because we are not yet willing to let go of those things that bring us comfort and climb into the saddle of possibilities?
The truth is, when we are willing to take a risk, reach out and grab hold of our dreams, we will often find a joy that is greater than our fears. For Ella Kate, she found that her dreams were filled with joy and excitement. I am glad she overcame her fear and got in that saddle. What have you been dreaming about? What is keeping your feet on the ground? There is joy, much greater than fear, for each of us to experience.
– Rev. Keith King, Pastor of Worship