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Holding on to Faith

October 13, 2014

It isn’t every day you see a horse walking down the street of an average American neighborhood. Two-ton machines on four wheels with headlights and loud music don’t turn any heads except to get out of the road. But a thousand-pound, four-legged clopping beast is guaranteed to draw a crowd in the inner city.

Last week we went into the ghettos of Shelby, North Carolina in hopes of giving away clothes, books, and some miscellaneous items to any who might be in need. After setting up in a nearby church parking lot, a few of us set off down the street with Tim and his horse, Faith.

Let me tell you a bit about Faith. She’s barely two years old, and she has an attitude.

The second day of this trip, I spent a couple of hours holding Faith’s halter while she grazed in a grassy lawn. Every time her head was near enough to me, she would smack me with the side of her head. I am not a horseman. But instinctively I knew this to be bad manners.

So here we are, walking down the street with Faith and I’m just a little nervous about how much attitude we will be seeing.

After a few interactions, we start seeing kids in front yards. And one by one they want a ride.

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As each child is swung up into the saddle I pray a silent prayer for no freak-outs. A half hour goes by and I’m beginning to think we accidentally grabbed Faith’s angelic clone out of the pasture that morning. She was flawless.

We come to a house with three women sitting outside the back door and Tim strikes up conversation. He tells them about all the items we’re giving away in the nearby parking lot and invites them to walk over and take a look. The woman sitting nearest to Faith was spunky and took a liking to her. Perhaps she sensed the fellow feisty spirit in her eyes and felt drawn in to the horse.

Tim asked them if there was anything we could pray for them for, and this woman spoke up and said she was struggling with some things. Tim looked back at me and asked if I would take the lead on this one. So I come around to the woman’s right side and put my hand on her shoulder. Tim kneels down next to me and the others come around next to him to form a semi-circle around her. I close my eyes and begin to pray.

About 30 seconds into the prayer, I feel something bumping up against my right hand that is hanging down at my side. It happens a few more times before I realize that it is the bit from the horse’s mouth. I thought to myself, “Why is Tim trying to get me to take ahold of the horse right now?” But so as to not be distracted, I kept my eyes shut for the remainder of the prayer.

As soon as I said Amen, Tim says to us, “Look.” And I turn my head to see the horse’s face nestled up against Tim’s arm in between us in this very intimate circle of people. I realized that it wasn’t Tim at all trying to put her bridle in my hand, she was doing it herself.

In the middle of this prayer for a complete stranger on her doorstep, Faith decided she had a place in our midst. Faith had walked up from behind and wanted me to take hold of her. Faith leaned up against Tim and declared to us that her absence was not acceptable.

This horse is never ever like this anywhere else. To think that in the midst of the chaos of street ministry, the rebellious spunk of a newly trained horse becomes entirely calm and submissive, as if the Holy Spirit were leading her Himself. As if to say, “I am Faith, and I am bold and brazen. I will quietly sneak in to your prayerful places of ministry and I demand that you hold on to me.”

The night before I left Indiana, a precious friend of mine was saying goodbye when she pulled something out of her pocket for me. It was a gift given to her 6 or 7 years ago as a reminder of the leadership God had called her into, and to always remember to have faith in His promises and purposes. She then hands me a ring with the word “Faith” inscribed in it, and she says, “The Lord wants you to have this now. Hold on to the faith He is giving you in this season.”

As the face of faith smacks for my attention, may my fingers never cease to reach out and hold on.

“Looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

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