Yesterday morning our last horse, Misty, died. My wife saw her laying down in the pasture, went out to investigate, and found she had died during the night. Misty had seemed perfectly normal the day before.
We’ve had horses since we moved into our house December 1991. We started with Ace and Joker (an Arabian and an Appaloosa), and then we bought Lady and Tigger (two wonderful ponies). Over time we gathered an assortment of strays who were put out to pasture in our back yard: King, Belle, Dakota, Shaq and others.
Misty was a gift to our daughter on her twelfth birthday. And now she was dead.
I don’t know why her death affected me as it did. I never connected with her. Mostly I fed her hay in the winter and held her halter when the blacksmith trimmed her hooves.
My wife interrupted me during my prayer time to say that Misty had died, and the first words out of my mouth were: “It’s the end of an era.”
We’re Looking for a Home
Six weeks ago, we accepted an offer on the house we’ve lived in for over twenty-five years. The house-inspection turned up twenty or so little repairs, and our attention has focused on fixing siding, replacing trim, and installing a few GFCI outlets. In five weeks, we move.
Misty’s death hit me, because I finally realized nothing held us here anymore—not even that horse I never bonded with.
In that moment, my heart finally said good-bye to the house we’ve loved, but no home has taken its place. We’ve searched Zillow, scoured Trulia, and followed up on every lead given by our real-estate agent.
We think we know the kind of house God has for us, one that will handle retreats (we’ve had many) and family times. But every address we look at seems gaudy, too expensive, too far, or impractical.
I feel restless, no longer home in our old house (even Misty is gone!), but I can’t picture where we’re going. It’s like we’re in limbo. In a few weeks, we will fly this coop, and I want to know—at least to picture in my mind—where we will come to roost.
Moments after my wife told me Misty was gone (and with her, our home), I read this in James:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness, and let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4, ESV)
I pictured “steadfastness” as a kind of stern, determined, inner strength to persist through difficulties. Sure enough, other translations used words with similar senses: perseverance (NIV), patience (KJV), and endurance (ISV).
But those translations miss the meaning of the Greek. The literal translation is best phrased, “hyper-abiding.” It’s not so dour as “steadfastness.” It’s more personal.
God uses trials “of various kinds” (even losing a horse I didn’t much care for) to create in me a “hyper-abiding” in him. It’s not a grim, teeth-gritting, independent, “determination” or “persistence.” It’s the joy of a deeply dependent life; he is nurturing His life in me until His life is all I want.
I’m looking for our next home. I think God is saying to me that he can’t trust me with the next home until my only home is him.
Augustine may have said it best, “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.”
To nurture the life of God in us, and to develop a conversational relationship with God, and to find our home in him alone, I suggest you read Hearing God in Conversation.
After all, what did God save us for? To know him personally.