Yesterday I watched my daughter, Angel, ride her horse. She didn’t have a saddle, only a bridle in her hands. The horse galloped and slowed with a slight pressure from her knees and the lift of her hand on the bridle. The horse and rider were one as they flew across the pasture.

I grew up on a cattle ranch in Arizona, so I saw many horses come and go. The ones that learned to be submissive to their masters were excellent, useful animals. My grandfather had a horse named Silver.

He was a tall, sleek dark-reddish bay with long flowing mane and tail. Grandfather would saddle him up and climb on. Silver’s ears perked up and his eyes took on a watchful glint. He was ready for the slightest signal from his master.

Out on the range, the horse would see a cow under a tree long before the rider and head in that direction. When the herd was gathered, Silver was ever-watchful. If a cow darted from the herd, he was there to gather it back into the herd. My grandfather’s horse was a magnificent beast. He had been raised from a colt and was taught to wrangle cattle.

Once a man watched Silver work cattle. He saw him dance back and forth, keeping a cow from going through the gate. He watched Silver skid to a halt when my grandfather’s flung lasso rope looped around a calf’s neck. He watched him hold the rope tight while the calf was branded. Silver’s focus was impeccable. Nothing could distract him from his purpose, no matter what clattered and clanged around him.


The man offered my grandfather $50,000 for Silver. Grandfather wouldn’t sell because he knew the value of the animal. He knew the years of training and effort that had gone into the animal. He knew the trust and the relationship that had been fostered and nurtured. No amount of money could have tempted him to sell.

I was able to ride Silver once in my life. He wasn’t the family pet. He was the top mount – and not just anyone was given that privilege. I was delighted when my grandfather adjusted the stirrups and let me climb aboard. He said, “Now, Yevet, you have to watch him and hang on. If he sees a cow leave the herd, he is going after it and will bring it back with or without you.”

It wasn’t long before I saw what he meant. I clung to the saddle horn while Silver crashed though the cedar trees after a wayward calf. He was the master, and I was just an appendage to the saddle. Sometimes I worried I wouldn’t even be that. There was blue sky between me and the saddle more than once. Never have I ridden such a horse.

My first horse, Sego Lily, was quite a different matter. She was an unbroken yearling with a mean streak. Once, I went to feed her, and she bit my arm, leaving a horrid bruise on my underarm. She would have left a nasty hole if I hadn’t yanked away so fast. Sego Lily would kick and bite anyone who entered the corral.

Needless to say, she wasn’t the top mount. In fact, she wasn’t anybody’s mount. We sold her at the auction for pennies on the dollar. I was sad to see her go, but I knew that she was not safe to have around and an animal that was not pulling her share of the work didn’t need to eat the feed from the animals that were.

People are like these two horses. Some are willing to do whatever the Master tells them and become a great asset to the kingdom of God. Others bite and kick at every command of the Master. They find fault with doctrines and complain about the rules. They are not only a hindrance to their own progression; they actively promote the spiritual destruction of others.

In our world today, there are many Sego Lilys who rebel against God and actively fight the traditional values of the past. They teach the philosophies and sophistries of man. “We are only animals in a world that exploded and evolved into existence.

We are the posterity of apes who evolved from amoebas into thinking and reasoning animals. Humans separate themselves from other animals only because they have developed intricate tools to survive. Questions of right and wrong are up to individual choice and circumstances.

Religious ideas and values of the past are figments of overactive imaginations trying to explain the unexplainable.” The Sego Lilys of the world go on and on with philosophy after philosophy, fighting the saddle and the bit. They stand in the corral eating the hay and grain meant for the working animals.

Soon the master will tire of feeding these Sego Lilys and will consider the danger they pose to His ranch. He will have to make a decision. Though He loves them and wishes they would submit to His training, He will let them go into the wilderness or send them to the auction to be sold to less generous masters.

Neither place is desirable. The wilderness is a desert where food and water is scarce, and wolves, snakes and lions lurk waiting to pounce on new-found prey. The auction belongs to Satan, and he only laughs at the misery of his subjects.

The Silvers, the ones who submit to God’s will, are kept in the barn on winter nights. They are safe from the wolves and dangers of the desert. They are fed with grain and hay night and morning, and the water they drink is always available. The Master will never sell them because they are valuable to Him. What is more, He loves them.

What makes the difference between these two types of people? Personal choice.

C.S. Lewis said in his book, The Great Divorce, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell choose it. Without that self-choice, there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek, find. Those who knock, it is opened.”

The Psalmists had it right:

The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

—Psalms 34:18

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise

—Psalms 51:17

Broken hearts are like broken horses. Broken hearts in our society often mean that someone is sorrowful and downcast, but broken has two meanings. The word broken, in this sense, can mean: to be trained to the will of the master. Silver was broken to wrangle cattle.

He was so well-trained that he could sense the will of his master even before the spur hit his side or the reins were lifted. He never needed a quirt or a whip. He just learned to obey. He was beyond any price to his master. Sego Lily was wild and untamable. By her own will, she would never be broken.

We as humans are like these horses. Some of us are Silvers, willing to submit to whatever the Master wants us to do. We are willing and ready to work whenever we hear the Master’s call. We enjoy the work of the Kingdom and are an asset to those around us.

Some of us are like Sego Lily. We fight, kick and scream from the minute we are put in the corral until we are turned out into the wilderness; then we wonder why the Lord doesn’t answer our prayers or show us His miracles.

We wonder why we have to fight the winter cold and languish with thirst. We wonder why the snakes, wolves and lions are our constant companions. The question we should ask is simple: Do we have “broken hearts and contrite spirits?” PD