Handing Over the Reins

–Dr. Garry K. Brantley

With his keen ability to find humor in the most unexpected things, Gary Larson made us laugh, caused us to blush and, perhaps more often than we’d like to admit, left us puzzled over the esoteric meaning of his satirical Far Side cartoons. Whether or not Larson intended them, I have on occasions found profound spiritual meaning from the Far Side. Consider this one, for example.

The picture is of the western “badlands.” The sun is high in a cloudless sky. The scorched landscape consists of bare, rugged cliffs and barren, sandy hills. The only plant life in the picture is a lone Sequoia cactus standing tall in the foreground. Somehow avoiding the immense open space, a bumbling cowboy has managed to guide his horse head first into the cactus. Expressing the thoughts of the irritated horse, the caption reads, “That does it…I’m gonna steer.”

Have you ever felt like this horse when it comes to your spiritual journey? Have you ever wondered where God is taking you? Have you ever thought that perhaps you could do a better job of directing your own steps rather than giving the reins of your life to God? I certainly have.

In our limited thinking, it seems that God occasionally runs us smack into painful cactuses, tempting us to snatch the reins from His omniscient hands. Job changes. Financial loss. Sickness. Death. During such trying times, it’s human nature to think, “Surely God could have guided us around these painful obstacles.” If you are facing such difficulties hear God’s Word before you attempt to retake control of your life, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way” (James 1:2-4; The Message).

Have you run into any cactuses of life lately? Before you direct yourself into the obviously-open countryside, maybe you should think seriously before you act. It just might be that God actually has brought you to the only source of available water to moisten your parched faith. Be still…and let God do His marvelous, faith-building work.