"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." ~ 1 Peter 3:15-16

Horse Riding

I do not know about your credentials in equestrianism, but I was a virgin during my maiden ride last May in Hunter Valley (New South Wales), Australia. I remember the instructor was a lady and she had assigned a gentle, light brown mare to my wife who also had no prior riding experience. I could vividly recall that my wife had ease mounting the mare with the support of the guide and a plastic drum. But not for me. The instructor had allocated a black sturdy-looking stallion named Ben Ben (or sounds alike) to me, and I had some challenges when mounting Ben Ben. That was the harbinger of my death ride.

I have driven a sedan, a bigger locomotive than a sedan and a tank running on tracks. I also have driving experience in both local and overseas. Though I confess that I am not good at unicycle and bicycle, I have sufficient confidence to harness and control creatures that move on four wheels. So I thought, what’s so hard about riding four legged mammals. I was terribly wrong. After mounting the horses, the instructor guided us along the designated path for a leisure ride. The instructor led the way, and my wife followed in the middle, with me at the back.

During the ride, Ben Ben appeared hungry and was being distracted many times by the grasses at the sides of the trail. Ben Ben left the group on many occasions to graze at the sides, leaving me far behind the main forces. It was sure tough and took a lot of strength to pull back the reins and manoeuvred Ben Ben back on the trail. It was a tricky thing to do because Ben Ben needed to speed up to close the gap, but he had a tendency to overtake and take the lead instead. I was pulling back on the reins most of the time to restrain his speed and I could sense that Ben Ben was extremely unhappy with me. After all, an hungry horse is already an angry horse.

When we left the plains and entered a more forested area, something unseen scared the horses, and Ben Ben suddenly speeded up and almost did a full rearing, at about 70 degree standing on his hind legs. I almost lost my balance and risked landing on the ground on my back. It was quite an experience but definitely not a pleasant one. I thought I could have really die out there. For the rest of the trail, Ben Ben also seemed eager to jump over small water flowing and ledges. I just had to continue holding on tightly to the reins and be prepare to pull back hard, I mean really hard.

On the way back to the ranch, just some horse steps away in the open area, Ben Ben did not fail to exhaust me. As there was a large amount of space, Ben Ben attempted multiple times to speed up and ovetake. For the last time, I had to hold on the reins very tightly and consistently to keep him under control because once I loosed the reins a little only, he would start to go wild. I hanged on until I was safe within the enclosed area. And my legs were having sea sick and were shaking faintly but uncontrollably when dismounting, which the instructor took noticed and gave me a smile.

Through this memorable experience, I now better understand why horses and chariots were a key factor in ancient warfares. There is great horsepower within each horse waiting to be harnessed. Yet the Scripture says that we should not place our confidence in horses and chariots (Psa 20:7). Psa 33:17 says that a horse is a false hope for victory and it does not deliver anyone by its great strength. Ben Ben sure did almost kill me instead of delivering me, but I could not deny the strength of the horse. And yet, the horse is false hope of victory.

This must surely means that the true hope for victory would be so much more powerful and stronger than horses. It is not man (Psa 147:10) but the Lord who alone can deliver us. Isn't true that most of the times, we were like Ben Ben, unwilling to follow the Master's leading at times, distracted from the narrow path other times, and relying on our own horsepower and instinct to do whatever we want when the reins are let down. We are afterall not too much different from Ben Ben in the eyes of God.

It is no wonder then that powerful horses are mentioned in Revelation 19:11 when John saw heaven opened. "And behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war." At the end, we will celebrate He who sits on the white horse, but I am sure that horse will not be Ben Ben.