I usually turned our horses out at night to graze in the pasture. They loved being out there just grazing quietly. In the summer months, I also enjoyed walking out and standing quietly with them as they grazed, especially during a new moon when the earth was in darkness. I loved the peaceful majesty of the night and enjoyed viewing the inspiring canopy of stars overhead.
Horses have excellent night vision. They could see me standing in the field, but I could NOT see them in the darkness. They would walk toward me and gather very carefully and gently beside me. It was inspiring when I sensed those large animals approaching out of the darkness to stand beside me. They knew who I was, I was their friend, and they trusted me. Those moments reminded me of a verse written by the Prophet Isaiah. At the time, the Prophet saw that the Israelites had turned away from their God. Isaiah lamented: “The ox knoweth his master, …but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider” (Isaiah 1:3). Israel’s animals knew their masters (and trusted them), but, as a people, Israel knew not (or had forgotten) their God, who is their Master. It was true in the days of Isaiah, and too often, it is true today. I believe it is essential to know and trust our God who loves us and provides for us (John 17:3).
Another important lesson I learned from our horses was to “…be prepared for and anticipate the morning light.” Our little ranch laid in a beautiful mountain valley. I usually fed the horses late in the afternoon just before sunset, and again in the mornings, just before dawn. The winter nights can be long, dark, and exceedingly cold. So, on those frigid mornings, I noticed the horses would always gather on the far west side of the pasture and patiently wait to catch the first bit of sunlight as it broke over the tops of the east mountains. They were waiting for the warmth of the sun. I also watched for the sun to rise above the eastern horizon because I too knew as soon as it did, I would “immediately” feel the warmth of the sun on my shoulders.
This morning sunshine and warmth was an excellent lesson for me and a “type” of the Savior’s influence and in my life. I learned that in times of hardship and despair (whether by personal or external causes), if I turned away from the cause of my discomfort and embraced the love of Jesus Christ, He would “immediately” bless and comfort me with the hope and warmth of His love. I knew I might not be made completely whole “immediately,” but I would feel His love and have hope “immediately” as the “great plan of redemption” is “brought about” in me! I also learned that lasting joy and hope would come as I continue to draw near to the Lord, learn more of Him, continue to follow Him, and embrace His Plan of Happiness.
“Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.”
(Book of Mormon, Alma 34:31)
My horses knew who I was. They came to me because they loved and trusted me. They also understood the blessings of the warm sun on their backs after a cold winter night. Of course, these similes are overly simplified compared to the Great Love Jesus Christ has for His children and the blessings He promises us when we “Hear Him” and turn to Him! I believe Jesus Christ knows us, understands our challenges and weaknesses, and has divine love and mercy for us. When I soften my heart and sincerely turn to Him in faith, I “immediately” begin to feel a portion of His loving influence, and I begin to heal. The effect is warm and inspiring, like the early morning sunlight on my shoulders after a long, cold, winter night. His warming influence gives me immediate comfort and hope!
Note: If you would like to read more about animals in my life, including my horses, please click on the following link: My Life with Animals.