A story of a miracle

Pho­to by Eduar­do Amorim

The first part of this sto­ry hap­pened back in August of 1998, when we (the peo­ple of Rose Creek Vil­lage) were liv­ing in Bethel Springs, Ten­nessee, in what we affec­tion­ate­ly called “Mash ’em Inn,” a farm­house that we had built a mas­sive addi­tion onto to cre­ate a 14-bed­room, 7‑bath dwelling which housed about 85 of us. Fun times! (No, really!)

Any­way, liv­ing this kind of life real­ly brings out the cre­ativ­i­ty in peo­ple. We have an annu­al fes­ti­val we call the Ingath­er­ing, which we do around the end of September/beginning of Octo­ber. We usu­al­ly have new dances and music that we cre­ate to hon­or our Lord and encour­age the Body. That year, we were going to do a series of four dances that were themed around the four hors­es spo­ken of in Rev­e­la­tion. So, of course, it only made sense to plan on there actu­al­ly being hors­es involved in these dances.

I was approached about whether I’d want to be the rid­er of the “red” horse, to which I agreed. Now, this was­n’t smart on my part (or any­body else’s), as I had lit­tle-to-no expe­ri­ence with hors­es up to this point, and the rea­son I was asked to par­tic­i­pate was because my best friend, Stephen, who had been work­ing on this part, had been thrown by the horse into a barb wire fence…

The red horse was the horse of war, and boy, did our horse fit the bill. His name was Shogun, a red quar­ter-horse that looked like the equine equiv­a­lent of Mr. Uni­verse. He had incred­i­ble sta­mi­na and strength, as well as some real­ly bad habits. His pre­vi­ous own­ers did­n’t real­ly know what to do with him; when­ev­er he mis­be­haved, they’d put him away. So, he learned that if he want­ed to go back to his com­fort­able, well-stocked stall, all he had to do was act up, which includ­ed buck­ing, run­ning wild, etc. He also had barn fever, which means that when­ev­er he was head­ed towards the barn, he’d take off run­ning, and it was a work­out try­ing to get him to walk.

Why we–a com­mu­ni­ty of about 175 peo­ple at the time with lots of kids–even owned a horse with these issues is beyond me.

So, I end up work­ing with Shogun with the assis­tance of Mer­cy, who used to train hors­es. Now, sit­ting astride an ani­mal that weighs some­where in the neigh­bor­hood of 700–800 pounds and has all of his will bent on doing what he wants to do can be a stress­ful and intim­i­dat­ing expe­ri­ence, espe­cial­ly if you’re inexperienced.

Now, I don’t rec­om­mend the meth­ods that I was using. I did­n’t real­ly know what I was doing much, which I real­ize was pret­ty stu­pid, and I’ve learned a lot since then, even though I don’t con­tin­ue to work with hors­es. The peo­ple in the Vil­lage who work with the hors­es have done a lot with nat­ur­al horse­man­ship meth­ods, with very good results.

We worked with Shogun for a cou­ple of weeks, just try­ing to get him to obey, fol­low com­mands, and not run wild when­ev­er he felt like it. We had very lit­tle suc­cess; ten­sions between the horse and I began to escalate.

Final­ly, one evening after a par­tic­u­lar­ly try­ing train­ing ses­sion, it we begin­ning to get dark and we were tak­ing Shogun down to put him away. He took off for the barn, and I had to rein him in tight­ly, cir­cle him, and then make him walk in the oth­er direc­tion. We got into a pret­ty intense bat­tle of wills.

After repeat­ing this pro­ce­dure about 4–5 times, I turned Shogun back towards the barn, and tried to get him to walk towards it. Not sur­pris­ing­ly, he took off run­ning again down the grav­el road. I reined him in, and began pulling his head around to cir­cle him, and then he decid­ed that he’d had enough.

Have you ever seen in the cow­boy movies when a horse rears up and stands on it’s hind legs, while the rid­er holds on and yells, “Whoa!”

Well, Shogun was­n’t going for the stand­ing pos­ture. He sud­den­ly threw him­self over, slam­ming me down into the grav­el road, with him falling on top my body.

I did­n’t hard­ly have time to even think “Whoa!”

Shogun rolled around on top of me, thrash­ing his legs in the air, prob­a­bly for about 10–15 sec­onds (which is a real­ly long time when there’s a sad­dle horn crush­ing your low­er abdomen and ribcage). Final­ly, he rolled off of me, scram­bled to his feet, and took off down the road.

Mer­cy took off run­ning for the house to get help, and I lay there crushed, feel­ing things shift­ing, pop­ping, and leak­ing that should­n’t be doing those things. I remem­ber the stars were real­ly bright that night, and I laid there strug­gling to breathe and know­ing that I was actu­al­ly going to die. I thought, God, help me!

Then, every sen­sa­tion of bro­ke­ness, pain, and dam­age just kind of went away, like it was being sucked down a fun­nel or some­thing. With­in 20–30 sec­onds I was breath­ing eas­i­ly, not hurt­ing at all, won­der­ing what just hap­pened, total­ly stunned.

Peo­ple came run­ning, and soon I was encir­cled by every­body. Jeshu­run was fight­ing his way through the crowd to get to me to help, and I told every­body to back off so he could get through. He leaned down over me.

You ok?”

I think so,” I said, still sur­prised and very shaky. As he helped me up, I real­ized that my arm was bro­ken, right below the elbow, from where I had put my arm back to break the fall. That and a small scrape the size of a half-dol­lar on my low­er back were my only sou­venirs from the escapade.

I nev­er did get back on that horse.

I know with­out a shad­ow of a doubt that God healed me that night. It was a real-life, hon­est-to-good­ness miracle.

But that’s not the mir­a­cle that I real­ly want­ed to tell you about.

You see, odd­ly enough, hav­ing that hap­pen did­n’t real­ly change me, make me a bet­ter per­son, or make me believe in God–I already believed in God. I knew that he exist­ed, that he loved me, that he worked in the lives of the peo­ple around me; I had grown up see­ing his work. Or at least, I thought all of that was true.

Now, let’s go for­ward about 3–4 years. I was going through some real­ly hard times, with God real­ly putting his fin­ger on some areas of my life, show­ing the amount of dark­ness I was real­ly walk­ing in. I had main­tained a real­ly good out­look on my self and char­ac­ter all my life, nev­er real­ly look­ing at myself, nev­er see­ing that I was a low, self­ish creature.

Sure I believed in God. But did I obey him? Ah, there’s the rub.

In a long sequence of events (which I won’t get into in this already long sto­ry), I was con­front­ed by some things about myself that weren’t pret­ty, and were hurt­ing peo­ple in my life. It was hard to deal with, but even through all the rev­e­la­tion, I some­how man­aged to cling to the tat­tered rags of my imag­i­nary dig­ni­ty and walk around feel­ing like “I’m not that bad.”

In the midst of all this strug­gle, I went to a friend of mine to talk to him about some­thing I was irri­tat­ed about with anoth­er broth­er. I hon­est­ly have no idea what that sub­ject was any­more. While I was talk­ing to him, I felt like he was­n’t real­ly pay­ing atten­tion, and he sud­den­ly cut me off mid-sentence.

Do you know what your prob­lem is?” He asked. “You’re a self­ish per­son. You’re mean, pride­ful, and con­sumed by your­self. That’s the rea­son for all of your problems.”

He real­ly laid into me, going on and on about how wrong I was. And I was so mad. I want­ed to walk out and just write him off so bad­ly. But, as the anger was cours­ing through me and my brain was scream­ing “You don’t have to take this from him!” I saw that even through his angry coun­te­nance he had tears in his eyes, and I could tell that he was mad because he had to say this to me, that it hurt him to hurt me. In short, I could see how much he loved me in that few seconds.

Right then I had a choice to make. All of a sud­den I knew that this con­fronta­tion was real­ly the hand of God hold­ing up the mir­ror of Truth so that I could real­ly see myself in all my ugly glo­ry, and I had to choose whether to turn away and walk out, or face the truth. So I admit­ted that what he was say­ing was true, and when I did that, I could no longer hide from God any­more. I had to take own­er­ship of every­thing that was wrong with me, all the stuff that peo­ple had been work­ing with me to see that I was some­how refus­ing to look at. And by tak­ing that own­er­ship, and look­ing at my sin, God total­ly dev­as­tat­ed my life.

I spent months where I woke up every morn­ing think­ing about how much I hat­ed the way I was; I was a wreck. But, through it all, I knew that, some­how, God loved me enough to go after me, and to make me His son.

In Hebrews 12 Paul writes:

My son, do not make light of the Lord’s dis­ci­pline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord dis­ci­plines those he loves, and he pun­ish­es every­one he accepts as a son.” Endure hard­ship as dis­ci­pline; God is treat­ing you as sons. For what son is not dis­ci­plined by his father? If you are not dis­ci­plined (and every­one under­goes dis­ci­pline), then you are ille­git­i­mate chil­dren and not true sons. More­over, we have all had human fathers who dis­ci­plined us and we respect­ed them for it. How much more should we sub­mit to the Father of our spir­its and live! Our fathers dis­ci­plined us for a lit­tle while as they thought best; but God dis­ci­plines us for our good, that we may share in his holi­ness. No dis­ci­pline seems pleas­ant at the time, but painful. Lat­er on, how­ev­er, it pro­duces a har­vest of right­eous­ness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (ASV)

And that is the great­est mir­a­cle in my life: that God accept­ed me as His son. That real­iza­tion changed my life, far more than a mirac­u­lous heal­ing ever would.

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