"Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?" (Isa. 58:6)

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?” (Isa. 58:6)

When I was in high school I had a beautiful five-gaited horse whose name was “Coe’s Glory Halleluiah” – “Glory” for short. He was truly a “show quality” horse, though I was by no means a show quality equestrian. While he was gorgeous to watch when he was good, like most show horses I have known, he was a bit spirited, to say the least. In fact, that is how I probably was able to afford him. Some might even have considered him dangerous. None the less, even though he had been known to dislodge me from the saddle, I loved him.

I arrived at the stable one morning to behold an awful sight, something those present were helpless to do anything about. Glory had gotten loose and run into a cow pasture nearby, which was surrounded by barbed wire. Attempting to get away from the owner of the stable he ran into the wire, became caught up in it, and was rolling on the ground. The more the people surrounding him tried to help, the more he struggled, and the worse it became, blood everywhere, and the sounds of his agony.

Anyone who loves and has worked with horses knows the effect such a scene would have. Finally, the veterinarian came, and with the help of several nearby farmers, was able to get close enough to sedate Glory. It took hours to remove him from the wire and back to the stable, and it seemed forever for him to heal. But he did heal. When I left for college, we gave him to the stable owner’s daughter who rode him to win many ribbons and trophies. She put in hours nursing and caring for the horse. Glory was transformed by her love and care, and even with the white stripes of hair where the barbed wire had torn the skin under his then brown hair, he was a beautiful, if an unusual looking horse.

How similar our lives can be to that experience of my horse Glory. Caught up in our sin, and the devices of the world, the flesh, and the devil, we become bound up. The bindings often grow tighter as we struggle against them. Ripping and tearing at our soul, disfiguring the beauty of the image God imbued to us. Even as those we love watch us in our struggle and pain, our brokenness, and try everything within their power, we misunderstand or distrust their intentions, refuse their help, and retreat into our misery.

If we will only stop our animal and worldly way of thinking, allow God to renew a right spirit within us — allow God to transform our perceptions, and remove our fear by filling us with His Love — work with, and be open to, those who can help us and love us into health and wellbeing – then we can overcome these spiritually deadly afflictions and be the people we are meant to be. We can live our lives to reflect the glory of the Lord. Glory Halleluiah!

The Rev. Walter Van Zandt Windsor is rector at Trinity Episcopal Church.

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