The weather has been beautiful here in the heartland. Everything is green and beautiful and you can smell the lilacs blooming. It brightens the soul. But, this time of year has a big negative aspect for me. It's time for the "horse trailer parade" as we've come to call it. We live on a county road that connects two highways and is also kind of a gate to the back roads. If you're coming from Illinois into Missouri wine country, you probably cross our road. Horse enthusiasts pass here constantly heading to the many trail rides that take place every weekend. It's been a dream of mine to have my own horses since I was a little girl. In third grade I lied and told my teacher that I didn't finish my homework because I was busy taking care of my horse. My parents weren't amused. You'd think a childish dream would go away with maturity. Like how my little brother wanted to be a stunt driver and my cousin wanted to be a ballerina. But, this one's only gotten stronger. I get to ride occasionally because much of my family and my husband's family has horses and mules. And to me, the only high greater than being on a country road in the saddle with leather reigns in my hands is God revealing himself in a mighty way. These two often occur simultaneously. But, the horse trailer parade hurts. It's all weekend long, every weekend. And sometimes on weekdays too. I've counted four of them pass the window since I started typing. I want to be out there. I love the sound of the birds along with hooves rhythmically hitting gravel. Some city-friends of mine were discussing their favorite smells once and I chimed in with horse-sweat! Yeah, I got some puzzled looks. The hurdles to this dream coming true are exceptionally high. It's a very expensive hobby and I want to do it right, not just throw up a fence and find a hand-me-down saddle. And God hand-picked my spouse for me, who is not a horse person and who has a pretty expensive dream of his own. He wants to have a race car. Ice that cake with three kids and .... well...... summed up... it aint happenin any time soon. In fact I often pray that God would just take the dream away. I'd like for it to just go away and not come back. Let me be repulsed by the thought of shoveling stalls and cleaning tack. But, it doesn't happen.
It's amazing how right when you need something and expect God to deliver on it, it shows up. I got an e-mail from one of my sister-in-laws a couple weeks back and read it without giving it much thought at first but didn't delete. Then this week I was looking for an idea for my presentation at our monthly Women's Mission group at church of which I'm the mission study chairman and the e-mail popped back into my mind. It was from an interview that Rick Warren had given. He's the pastor of Saddleback church in California. (the Saddleback irony hasn't gone unnoticed) Here's an excerpt from that interview according to the e-mail.
People ask me, what is the purpose of life? And I respond: In a nutshell, live is preparation for eternity. We were not made to last forever and God wants us to be with him in heaven. One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body, but not the end of me. I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years (trillions is less than a drop in the bucket, just my thoughts) in eternity. This is the warm-up-act, the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity.
The reason for our problems is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than he is in making your life happy. We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that's not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.
God expanded on this message to me personally. He said he has eternity to spoil me rotten, right now he needs my obedience. He needs to see what I'm made of. Will I hate the people in the horse trailer parade or be happy for them? Will I put the needs of my husband and children ahead of my dreams? Will I harbor bitterness?
Anytime I ever think of heaven, I imagine horses. I don't think that's an accident. The first thing I imagine isn't the crystal sea or the streets of gold. It's mountains with riding trails that go on forever. He has eternity to spoil me, and he intends to do just that. Right now, we're character-building.