In horsemanship we use the word 'yield' to describe the process of a horse changing their heart and submitting to the leadership of their handler. Once yielded there are several signs that they will show such as licking their lips, snorting with a big exhale, relaxing and lowering their head or even just turning their ear onto their handler.
Up until the point where a horse has fully yielded it can be a battle of spirits where you as the handler are aiming for one thing while the horse is steam rolling in a totally different direction or even letting loose with some bucks, twists and rears to escape the leadership of their handler.
But, a change of attitude and heart – a handing over of the reigns to the handler, where the horse is essentially risking everything – marks a platform where the horse is in a frame of mind to learn and fulfill his purpose while also an indescribable bond between horse and rider can grow.
As a rider this is a process that you go through with any horse you handle; and often horses will wake up on the wrong side of the paddock and you have to establish this attitude of submission all over again. This is something that my mum has been working on with our horse Justyce.
Out of the arena
Taking this concept out of the arena, this principle reminds me of our relationship with God and our attitude in the way that we worship Him and are open to following His direction in our lives.
A few questions that this causes me to ask myself are: Am I steamrolling in my own directions or am I freely submitting to God's divine leadership? Am I running in 'following Him' to bring glory to His name or am I running in circles with the reigns tight? Am I living with an attitude of true worship??
Matthew chapter 28 verses 16-17 [The Message] ..... Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally.
This passage paints a portrait not too dissimilar to the yielding process between horse and handler. This got me thinking about true worship. While these guys, the disciples, were the people closest to Jesus – they had journeyed and been discipled by Him and had seen and experienced miracles (including seeing Jesus raised back to life!!) – some of them held back from fully worshipping Jesus with everything they had.
Just like Justyce
And what is that? – risking themselves totally; choosing to hand over the reigns and fully yield to the one they had decided to follow. This is just like Justyce, and all too many times myself also. However, what blows my mind is that even though we may struggle with doubt, unbelief or handing the reigns over to Jesus and risking everything like some of the first disciples, God isn't about to send us to the meat market, rather He continues to usher us to Himself to trust in him, yield and submit to him and risking everything truly worship.
Now this whole concept of submission can strike a negative undertone in our Western conceptualisation but I am telling you that when a horse submits to its rider it can go to a whole new level of enjoyment of life, relationship with its handler and purpose.
The same goes for us when we come to God and experience relationship with Him, after all Jesus himself said that He came to give us life and life in all its fullness (John 10 verse 10) and Paul's ministry spoke boldly of this fullness.
Not only this but in our submission we too are given a far deeper purpose than before as we are invited to be a part of God's wider plan for relationship and His good work. Wow!! And even when we doubt or struggle or freeze at the responsibility this brings He reiterates that He will never leave us, that He has got our backs and that all things are possible through Him.
Matthew chapter 28 verses 18-20 [The Message] Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: "God authorised and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life ....."
This is so much more powerful and inexpressibly amazing than any horse riding principle. God is the creator of everything, He knows everything about us and He has a totally awesome plan for relationship, written before the beginning of time, that He wants us to be a part of.
All He asks is that we hand over the reigns – yield and submit to Him. I think that this shift to an attitude of submission within our hearts and minds is the true definition of worship and opens the door to relationship with God at a whole new level where He can do a good thing both in and through us.
Worship is more than a song
For me, my perception of worship is increasingly much more than singing a few songs on a Sunday and much deeper than I ever expected. It is a chosen state of heart and mind where a person is completely and utterly yielded to God and submitted to His divine leadership and direction.
Here, just as the horse is with the handler, we are in a place to learn, grow, become bonded in an indescribable relationship with the Father and be directed and lead to do His work.
And just as a horse licks their lips, lowers their head or sets their ear on their handler as a sign of yielding I believe that when we yield and let Jesus be the leader of our lives that it too can be seen from the outside as an outworking of the Spirit of Christ who resides in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control.
It's cool how a foundational principle of training horses can be so foundational to our own spiritual walks too! What a challenge to the way that we worship - being 100% freely yielded to God 100% of the time in every area of our lives!
Charlotte (Charley) works in youth ministry and is studying a Bachelor of Theology at a bible college in Melbourne. Charley enjoys writing children's stories, playing guitar and dreaming the impossible.
Charley Goiris' previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/charley-goiris.html