Thursday, October 1, 2009

Reflections of Carousels and Horses

I just got back from farm sitting my Mom and Dad's place. It was great to spend a week with my niece and take long horseback rides through the woods. We also spent a day at King's Island where among other things, we rode the carousel and couldn't help but make comparisons.

Riding the carousel horses is fun, clean and effortless. You don't have to fuss with tack, all the horses stand still and are perfectly well-behaved. No one ends up with green slimy half chewed grass down their front, biting flies are not an issue and you don't get spiderwebs across the face at all. But the carousel just goes around and around at a set pace for a set measure of time and you don't go anywhere.

Riding a real horse is a workout. You use muscles you never knew you had and if you've not ridden in a while or ever, you'll be sore for the following week. If you don't pay attention you may find yourself flat on you back in the dirt or dumped into the cold water of a creek. Horse flies are obnoxious nuisances. Going through the woods, you'll end up eating more spiders and bugs than you 'd care to think about. My niece and I wondered why that never seems to happen in the movies. But for all the grime and sweat involved in riding a real horse, it's so much more fun and rewarding than riding a carousel horse. You actually become stronger and go places.

So what's my point? Well, sometimes it seems easier to choose a safe, clean carousel ride kind of faith. If you follow the rules, go to church, sit in the pew for the set measure of time and listen to a service that is ordered to a set pace, you're good. No effort, no getting dirty and definitely no unpleasantness. Just going around and around in circles never getting anywhere no matter how busy life becomes. For years I was content to be a carousel christian. But what purpose does it serve to just go through the motions? I want the real thing.

I'm still learning what the real thing is and will continue to do so as long as I live. However I'm finding it's not always clean, and easy or confined to a legalistic set of do's and don'ts. It takes real effort. Somedays I feel spiritually sore and tired, but I know that it's because I'm learning to stretch my faith and am becoming stronger. Sure, there are things I'd rather not deal with or go through but the adventure is worth the workout because it is a journey that leads to becoming more like Christ and brings Him glory.