[by Dean Smith] In 2010, Beka and her horse Stormy competed in the “Extreme Cowboy Race,” part of the Equine Affair held annually at the Ohio Expo Center in Columbus, Ohio. Over 100,000 people attended the four-day affair.
Though dozens of riders apply to compete only 30 are accepted. The event features obstacle courses, timed and judged events.
But there was something about Stormy that set him apart from every other horse in that year’s event. Stormy is completely blind.
This amazing story in many ways illustrates the believers faith walk with God. But perhaps the greatest lesson we learn is the vital connection between trust and faith.
When she was 8-years old, Beka thought her parents were taking her to Dairy Queen to celebrate her birthday, instead they took Beka to a farm and introduced her to Stormy, a three-year old, unbroken horse they had bought for her.
Beka said she immediately fell in love with this gangly colt, and despite being bucked off on her first ride attempt, she stubbornly broke the horse and trained him to ride competitively.
But at an event in Lancaster, Ohio, Beka knew something was horribly wrong when Stormy crashed through barriers he successfully cleared the day previous.
Over night, Stormy had gone completely blind. A Veterinarian diagnosed Stormy with equine recurrent uveitis and when steroid injections failed to reverse the codition, he recommended putting Stormy down.
Beka refused and decided to retrain her horse to function though blind. She used voice commands and taps of her foot to train him.
Lesson #1: Learning obedience through the things we suffer
Part of Stormy’s training involved dealing with trials and difficulties. When Beka rode Stormy in the country and he refused to follow Beka’s instruction, she allowed him to stumble into ditches and even let him run into trees.
It was these difficult times that eventually forced Stormy to change. He could no longer willfully plough ahead doing his own thing, he had to receive guidance.
In an interview with The Columbus Dispatch, Beka said, “It almost seemed he was desperate like he was looking for someone to help him through this. He was very willing to be re-trained because he knew he didn’t have another choice.”
God allows us to experience difficulties and trials often as a way to get our attention. An interesting verse in Hebrews that reads: “Although He (Jesus) was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8)
Lesson #2: Hearing the voice of God
Beka says since Stormy lost his sight, his other senses have become much more focussed. In particular he is very attentive to what she says.
Beka uses voice commands to prepare Stormy for what lies ahead.
When she says “easy,” Stormy knows they will be entering a wet/muddy area where the footing could be treacherous.
“Down, down” means they will be going down hill.
“Step up” informs the horse obstacles are in their path and he needs to left his legs to step over it.
When they are approaching a jump, Beka leans close to Stormy’s ear and tells him to get ready and then at the moment he needs to jump, she says “jump.”
As Christians, we are entering treacherous times, economically, spiritually and even physically — as the world is starting to turn against Christianity. It is important during this hour to hear God’s voice and respond when He speaks to us.
In John 10:27, Jesus says “My sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow me.” It is clear every believer has the ability to hear God’s voice. We need to start listening for the Holy Spirit as He tries to guide us in our walk with God. That voice can come in a variety of ways — an urging of the Holy Spirit, even a feeling, or a thought in our head.
We can learn God’s voice through trial and error. We may sense the leading of the Holy Spirit, but aren’t completely sure. We choose the wrong road and days later realize the Holy Spirit was speaking to us to take a different route. These are important lessons.
Lesson #3: The missing element of faith — trust
There is also a vital element of faith we see in Stormy’s relationship with Beka. This horse absolutely trusts Beka. And quite frankly, this was the only way this relationship could work.
If Stormy didn’t trust Beka, he wouldn’t willingly obey her commands.
As this trust has grown, Beka has seen Stormy accomplish things, other horses would shy away from. A while back, Beka participated in a fake train robbery. Despite the pounding noise and overwhelming smell of the steam engine train, she was able guide Stormy so close to the train she could have touched the hands of the children reaching out the windows.
It is one thing to believe God for great things, but it is an entirely different matter to trust God.
Proverbs 3:5, 6 reads, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding, In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
However, many of us miss the inner intent of this popular passage. In v 6, it says, “in all your ways acknowledge Him.” All your ways includes the good and bad. It is easy to praise God when its sunny and things are going good, but do we still acknowledge God in the bad times?
In many ways it is going through the dark times we develop a pure faith in God. Pure in the sense our relationship is not based on what we receive from God, but just because He is God.
Video of Beka and Stormy
The following video was produced as part of Beka and Stormy’s application to the Versatile Horse and Rider Competition at the 2011 Ohio Equine Affaire.
Feature image: pkub/Foter/CC BY-NC-SA