The Upper Room

In The Man Who Listens to Horses, Monty Roberts tells of learning to train horses by listening to them. His father had trained horses through physical domination and fear, “breaking” them. But Monty hated how the horses suffered and sought a better way.

As a teenager, Monty spent long hours observing wild mustangs. He watched how they used their bodies to communicate with each other and to establish relationships. Monty began experimenting with ways to use his own body to communicate with the animals. He learned to use his eyes, hands, and body to work with the mustangs. Soon they were as responsive to him as they were to other horses in the herd. Based on what he learned, Monty has trained thousands of horse trainers, proving that horses do not have to be dominated or abused in order to learn to let us ride them.

Monty’s story makes me think about God’s way with us and how Jesus changed the way people would henceforth be “trained” to live in goodness. In the old way, God Almighty was said to have laid down the law and commanded people to surrender to it or else it would be hell for them. At least that’s the message many of us heard. The new way began when God came among us in Jesus of Nazareth, entered into human life at ground level, and experienced what we experience. We might say that in Jesus, God started to communicate differently with us and, in so doing, to win our hearts.

Christian discipleship is about training to live as Jesus would live if he were in our place. But Jesus’ way of training disciples is not to require blind obedience to cosmic laws, backed up by divine threats. Rather, Jesus says, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart …” (Matt. 11:28-29, NRSV).

From The Upper Room® daily devotional guide, January/February 2008. Copyright © 2008 The Upper Room. All Rights Reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
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