THE HORSE – A VISION OF MAJESTIC STRENGTH

We were visiting in Tampa recently when we were invited to have lunch at a restaurant named Ulele.  It is in the old waterworks building so it has a charm that modern buildings just cannot replicate.

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Inside the restaurant, there is a magnificent bronze statue of a stallion created by Victor Delfin, that is the focal point of the décor.

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Standing closer to the figure you get a sense of its size and musculature.

The Laughing Horse by Victor Delfin at Ulele in Tampa Florida
“The Laughing Horse” by Victor Delfin.  The artist was skilled in his representation of this magnificent animal.

Scripture contains many references to horses.  One that I dearly love is found in the book of Job where God is responding to the demand for answers that Job propounded to Him:

Do you give the horse his might? Do you clothe his neck with a mane?  Do you make him leap like the locust? His majestic snorting is terrifying.  He paws in the valley and exults in his strength; he goes out to meet the weapons.  He laughs at fear and is not dismayed; he does not turn back from the sword.  Upon him rattle the quiver, the flashing spear, and the javelin.  With fierceness and rage he swallows the ground; he cannot stand still at the sound of the trumpet.  When the trumpet sounds, he says ‘Aha!’ He smells the battle from afar, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.”

Job 39:19-25 ESV

This description of the horse grips me with awe for the strength, courage and resilience of this mighty animal.  But we are warned in Proverbs to give credit where credit is due:

“The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD.”

Proverbs 21:31 ESV

When we have battled a temptation and won, we must not boast in the victory – rather, we give God the glory for the victory because He enabled us to be victorious. 

Further, we read in Psalm 147 that while God created both the horse and man, their strength does not bring God delight:

“His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.”  

Psalm 147:10-11 ESV

Just think of the privilege we have — we can bring pleasure to the Creator of the universe!  When we reverence the Lord, when we cling to His steadfast love, it is in those times that we bring the Lord pleasure!  The prophet Micah reminded the people that God has told them what He required:

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Micah 6:8 ESV

These same commands apply to us today.  These things bring our God pleasure!

One of the final references to the horse in Scripture is in the last book of the Bible, Revelation where we read:

“Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.”

Revelation 19:11 ESV

Our Lord will be victorious.  He will come in righteousness as the perfect Judge of the world He came to save but which rejected Him.  For the Christian, the white horse is a welcome sign; for the non-believer it bespeaks of judgment and rejection. 

So, do you trust in the horse or in the One who created the horse and who will ultimately return on a white horse in judgment at the end of time?

Father, I praise Your name for sending Jesus Christ to be our atoning sacrifice on the cross.  Thank You, Lord and Savior, for Your obedience and willingness to come to save us from our sin.  Thank You, Holy Spirit, for quickening the hearts of Your children so that we can believe on the name of the Lord and be saved.

SPANISH MOSS

Bellingrath Gardens, moss covered trees (C)
Moss covered trees in Bellingrath Gardens

One of the beautiful creations of our Lord, at least in my humble opinion, is the Spanish moss that covers trees in the Southeast United States.   I love to look at it, to walk beneath it, to savor the peace that it seems to bring to the trees from which it hangs.

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Garden and grounds outside Ulele Restaurant in Tampa, Florida

Actually, what we call Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) is really not a moss.  It is a bromeliad, from the same family as succulent house plants and pineapples. 

Also, it is not a parasite that takes nutrients away from the host tree.  Rather, the plant lives on rain and fog, sunlight and airborne or waterborne dust and debris.  (If that was my diet, well … I digress!)

The plant further has a name that is really irrelevant to its character since it is not from Spain.  It actually is native to Central and South America, as well as the Southeastern United States and the Caribbean.  It grows wherever there is a healthy tree in a tropical swampland. 

The fable of the origin of Spanish Moss tells the story like this:

Gorez Goz was a bearded brute who bought a beautiful Indian maiden for a yard of braid and a mere bar of soap. The mere sight of the Spaniard so frightened the girl that she ran away from him. Gorez Goz chased right behind her, until at last he climbed up after her to the top of a tree. The maiden dove into the water and escaped, but Gorez Goz’s beard got hopelessly entangled in the tree’s branches. There he died, but we can still see his “greybeard” on trees throughout the Lowcountry—as the Spanish moss out on the limbs.

[This information was found at http://mentalfloss.com/article/67807/10-things-you-should-know-about-spanish-moss  accessed October 9, 2017]

Spanish moss, to me, is beautiful in its silent adornment of the branches of the host trees.

Beauty is a characteristic that is hard to define.  What one person believes is beautiful, another person would pass by without even a notice.  So, not everyone would agree with my opinion that Spanish Moss is beautiful.  But, external beauty is not the paramount criterion for a finding of beauty. 

Scripture talks about beauty on multiple occasions, and, when speaking of mankind, it always involves not only physical beauty but spiritual beauty.  For example, Peter writes to the women in the church:

“Do not let your adorning be external–the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear — but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”

1 Peter 3:3-4 ESV

Appreciate beauty.  Be in awe of how God supplies the needs of even the insignificant Spanish moss as it grows without harming its host tree, decorating and adorning it with beauty.  Be thankful for the beauty of the earth, of music, of nature and its ways. 

Here is John Rudder’s beautiful version of “For the Beauty of the Earth” on the album Gloria, Sacred Music of John Rudder.  It is my prayer that it would speak to your spirit and brighten your day.

Now praise our God that He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things.  Let your soul swell and your spirit sing as you consider our Mighty, Loving and Saving God.

Father, Thank You for Your creation that speaks so eloquently of Your grace, might, provision and wonder.  I praise Your Holy Name for all your marvelous ways.