Another great devotional by Joni Eareckson Tada.
For physical training is of some value,
but godliness has value for all things,
holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
—1 Timothy 4:8
By Joni Eareckson Tada
A friend and I were once joking about what kind of horses we’d like to be. He mused, “I’d like to be a wild stallion, racing free across the plains, my mane and tail whipping in the wind.” I smiled and countered, “Maybe, but a horse like that will never win any honors. I would rather have the confines of a pasture and stall and be trained for dressage under bridle and bit.”
An unbridled, untrained horse lacks the restraints that guide and direct. The bit, martingale, tie-down, spur, and crop appear at first to the horse as irritants and hardships. But such inconvenience and suffering school the horse to listen to the rider’s commands. How hard it would be for an animal, without the aid of his master and his crop, to train himself up in the way he should go. What’s more, the horse would be useless in the ring, without a hope of ever winning honors for his master.
It’s the same for humans. Our natural bent is to enjoy what we think is freedom out there without constraints. But as someone has said, freedom is not the right to do what we want to do, it is the power to do what we ought. Hardship is our bit and bridle. What’s more, our Master is an expert with the reins and the crop. Godliness involves training… without it, no honor can be given to our Master.
One of the key elements in good animal training is to break the will, but not the spirit. In the same manner, we are never more “ourselves,” never more spiritually free than when our will is bent to God’s will. Our spirit thrives on this kind of submission; what’s more, we are then well on our way to godliness.
God, thank You for seeing fit to saddle me with certain hardships. You know what’s best. You know how to train me for godliness. I yield and obey… I want to win You honors!
Copyright © 1998. More Precious Than Silver, by Joni Eareckson Tada. Published in Print by Zondervan, Grand Rapids. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version.