If God is for us, who can be against us?
The colt stood saddled, his eyes as calm as the Pool of Siloam. Then, the moment I pulled the bridle across his ears, the horse reared, struck with his front hooves and shoved me against the fence.
Dazed, I clung to a post. Unfortunately, the angel of Siloam was nowhere in sight. Later that day, the colt’s owner informed me that the young horse had recently caught his halter on a nail and was pinned to a wall for a considerable length of time.
Clearly, the trauma explained the colt’s ultra-sensitive, don’t-you-even-look-at-my-ear reaction.
It reminded me of a Thoroughbred I trained last year. That horse had a similar explosion when my boot touched his front leg…a leg once lodged inside a piece of rusted farm machinery.
These horses demonstrate how easily a bad memory can turn a good day ugly. Their knee-jerk reactions also demonstrate the typical human response to sin and its lingering effects. If you don’t believe me, consider the visceral response you might have to one of the following: a boss you despise, the spouse you don’t trust, the co-worker you shun or the brother you steadfastly refuse to call on the phone.
We all have “sensitive areas,” spiritual puncture wounds that appear healed on the surface but remain tender to the touch. Most days, we manage to ignore them. But, now and then, a bad memory erupts, fear takes hold and, like panicked colts, we bolt.
Lent is God’s lasso. It forces us to stop and evaluate our habitual, often irrational reactions to painful situations from the past.
This means that the season of Lent is about more than “giving up chocolate.” Rather, the challenge of Lent lies in exploring regions of the soul which remain sore, that is, in sore need of God’s mercy.
Prayer is a must. So is silence. And, did I say, nerves of steel?
This is where St. Paul’s insistence on God’s unfathomable support comes into play. For, if indeed, God is for us, then we have nothing to fear.
Like a trainer approaching a shuddering colt, Christ reaches out and seeks to probe the places where nerves are raw and fear holds sway. His eyes are keen, his voice is soft. “Easy, now,” he whispers. “Easy.”