I know what you are thinking. This must be some kind of joke. Something catchy to get my attention but it’s not really a story about God and a horse, right? Well, it is a true story about a horse and how God used her to influence my relationship with Him.
My love for horses began as a child. Every week, I would anxiously await my favorite show, Mr. Ed. Mr. Ed was a weekly series about a palomino horse who could talk. Mr. Ed, however, only spoke to his owner named Wilbur. To everyone else, Mr. Ed was just a horse. I didn’t know it then but it was my love for horses that God would use to draw me closer to Him.
My family could not afford to buy me a horse. My older twin brothers and I grew up in a small southern town with parents who struggled financially. We were considered “poor” and owning a horse under our circumstances was out of the question. I remember, however, promising myself that when I “grew up” I would own a horse. As an adult, I never gave up on that dream.
My relationship with God to this point in my adult life had always been one of reverence. Although, I believed in God, I didn’t have a “relationship” with Him. In fact, no one had ever really explained to me what that meant. I prayed on occasion when I needed help but that was about it. I didn’t know about reading the Bible for assistance to enhance my relationship nor did I ever really converse with Him. Additionally, I had no reason to believe that my relationship with God was any different than anyone else’s.
Once I decided to buy my own horse I began to worry that I wouldn’t know how to proceed. I was a novice in my understanding of horses. God had his hand in the process from the beginning, however. What transpired was something I never saw coming. That’s what makes God so great. He is a constant reminder to us that we are not in control. I can look back at my need to control today and laugh. There was a time, however, that I always thought I needed to be in control and couldn’t see the fault in it. I didn’t realize how much my need for control affected my relationship with God.
God would show me his plan for our relationship beginning with two dreams. On the first night, I dreamed about a man in a cowboy hat and the name “Bob” was connected to this man. I was confused but felt perhaps this was the name of the man who owned the horse that I would eventually purchase. On the second night, my dream was more dramatic. As I started to drift off to sleep, I began to have a vivid dream. I saw myself in the dream lying face down on my bed. Red flowers with green vines were painted on my back. I was watching it all unfold. I looked at myself lying on the bed sleeping soundly and felt great peace. The next thing I knew, I saw myself, sit up abruptly in the bed. I then heard a voice that clearly said, “Something better is coming for you”. I woke up immediately and began to think about what this meant. I realized that this statement was referring to a horse that I had originally hoped to purchase but had passed on buying. I felt that I had made a mistake in not buying him. However, when I contacted the owner to let her know that I had changed my mind she had given me the bad news that I was too late. The horse had been sold. Perhaps God was telling me that I had made the right decision after all.
The next morning following my dream, I began contacting ranches to continue pursuing horse ownership. I had it in my mind that I would only consider buying a gelding (neutered male) and it had to be a paint horse (breed of horse that has large splashes of color on its body). I contacted a random ranch that I found in the telephone book. When I stated that I was only interested in purchasing a gelding paint horse, I was told by the owner that he only had one paint horse and that she was a mare (female). I politely thanked the man and told him I wasn’t interested.
When I hung up, I was immediately struck with a sinking feeling. A feeling similar to the one I had felt when I had passed on the horse I originally considered buying. I quickly called the ranch owner back and asked him if I could come out to the ranch to look at other horses he owned. He agreed that he would meet me during lunch. He had told me he had quarter horses that I could look at. Even though these were not the breed of horses that I wanted, I felt strongly that I needed to go to his ranch.
My husband and I arrived at the ranch around lunchtime. I felt having two opinions for horse buying were better than one, although, at the time, my husband knew as little about horses as I did. When we arrived, the man that I had spoken to on the phone was waiting for me. The minute I got out of the car, he introduced himself to us and began to talk about the paint horse mare. I was a little irritated about this because I had distinctly told him I was not interested in buying a mare. But he was insistent. As he shook my hand he said, “I have something I need to tell you about the mare”. Many thoughts went through my head, including, “I’m not interested in the mare or she probably has three legs”. What he said next, changed my world and almost sent me literally falling to the ground.
He looked at me and said, “What I need to tell you about the mare is I named her “Bob” because I wanted a boy”. I instantly felt my knees begin to buckle under my weight. I thought of my dream in which the name “Bob” was shown to me. I felt dizzy for a moment because I wasn’t sure if what was happening was real or another dream. I looked over at my husband to get my bearings. My husband was grinning ear to ear. Not wanting to say anything to the owner of the horse about my dream or my physical state at the moment, I managed to walk silently on toward the horse. Within a short distance, there she was. The mare named “Bob”. How many female horses are named “Bob”? I’ve only known one.
Needless to say, I ended up taking her home the very next day. When we went to pick her up, I remember seeing her for the first time after she had been bathed and groomed. It was a far cry from the day before when she was dirty and had matted hair. I remember saying out loud while choking back tears, “She is so beautiful she takes my breath away”. God had given me the perfect horse. He had guided me to her by a name in a dream and even where to find her. I later realized after I had “Bob” safely in her new home, that the red flowers and green vines that I had seen on my back during the dream was clover. The name of the horse ranch where I had first met “Bob” included the word “clover” as part of its name.
I knew “Bob” was a gift from God because of the unusual set of circumstances that brought us together. However, I wouldn’t discover until later that He would use her to bring me closer to Him. You see, “Bob” was a horse for an advanced rider. I was a beginner. In order to ride her I had to get over my fears and begin to trust. God used her to teach me that as a “beginner” in my walk with Him, I needed to have faith, I needed to put my trust in something bigger than myself, and I needed to fully let go of my control in order to have the courage to ride “Bob” and ultimately to draw closer to Him. These basic concepts are all required of us as Christians to grow in our relationship with God. These were concepts, however, that I was fully unaware of and never practiced in my life. While in the beginning I thought owning a horse was all about horseback riding, I discovered through my challenges that it was much more important than that. It had been about developing the most important relationship of all; my relationship with God. God had begun this most significant journey to Him through an unlikely source. My journey had commenced by God introducing me to a horse named “Bob”.
Susan J. Calloway Knowles is a Licensed Christian Marriage & Family Therapist and former practicing Family Law Attorney. She is also a Christian music Songwriter. Susan’s songs can be found at www.worshipsong.com. Her website is www.susanknowles.com.