Picture this. Monday morning, I head to the barn to feed the horses and realize I can’t get in through the access door. A barrow full of manure had tipped over, dumping the entire content. Not yet putting it all together, I move to my right and slide open the large barn doors.
I stand there motionless with my jaw dropped as far as it would go without unhinging. It was one of those moments where you look in utter disbelief.
There’s a horse named Peanut standing in the aisle munching away on hay strewn everywhere. She looks up leisurely, glancing my way as if welcoming me into my own barn. My first thought was, “What the heck happened in here?” My second thought was, “This looks like a college frat house after a wild weekend party!”
Every whip and crop was scattered across the aisle. Fresh piles of poop dotted the interior. Grooming brushes looked like they had been thrown for fun. Every towel, lead line, and halter had been taken off the hooks and left on the floor. Bags of bedding and pellets for outbuilding stove had been trampled and torn, their contents spread. Every rake and shovel was overturned. And there was a hunk of horse tail in the midst of the mess.
“Tough night, eh?” I said with dripping sarcasm to the mare who didn’t care.
No wonder the other horses in the paddock didn’t look eager as I walked to the barn. They were quite full from their all-night feeding frenzy.
This reminded me of the summer when, at 2 AM, I awoke to the sound of a distressed gelding (that’s a fixed male horse) who had been abandoned and locked in by the mares who took off to party hardy in the back yard under a full moon. Me in my nightgown and husband in his undies, we ran around trying to round-up four horses trotting over back deck and through rose garden leaving horse hoof prints everywhere they went. What a living nightmare!
This is what happens when you leave your barn door open. I have a new appreciation for this phrase that means, “Check your zipper.”
So here I sit trying to catch the spiritual significance of this highly messy occurrence. Don’t doubt me. I can find spiritual lessons in everything. That’s what makes my life so darn interesting. I’ve always looked at life from a slightly different angle than most, I guess.
Because I don’t believe in coincidence, I immediately connected this barn mess with Sunday’s sermon on Solomon. This wise king of Israel started out strong and ended his reign and life sadly. Long story short, Solomon became a man of compromise with culture. Satisfying his own desires rather than obeying God’s directives, King Solomon opened himself to beliefs and practices in opposition to God. By becoming inclusive of other belief systems, King Solomon allowed an erosive process to begin in his own soul. And there was a price to be paid in the end, not only for him but for the people he ruled. Though God was still merciful, He remained just and removed most of His blessing hand from Solomon’s progeny.
How are we like Solomon? As Christians, how have we compromised with the worldly culture around us? Has erosion begun in our souls to the point of not believing in the exclusive claims of Christ anymore? Do we entertain the possibility that there are ways to heaven other than by faith in Christ’s atoning work on the cross and subsequent physical resurrection? Will our Easter celebration this year mean the same as it did years ago?
And what about cultural values? Look around. Television, movies, books—anything we take in either builds up or erodes. I’ve seen it in my lifetime. What is accepted as normative today surely was not forty years ago. We live in a new world that really isn’t new. Cultural erosion has occurred in every great civilization with detrimental, even devastating, effects on people in the end. Will we ever learn from history?
I feel it. I feel it as I write these words and know how they will sound to some. Narrow. Close-minded. Unloving. Stodgy. Judgmental. Non-progressive. And some of these descriptors are coming right out of “Christian” pulpits. Pastors leading people who themselves have become so eroded that they are tickling the ears of their listeners, assuaging their consciences, and helping them feel comfortable with soul erosion.
I can’t control what others think and all I say to myself and others nowadays is, “Be careful. Descriptors can be very wrong.” It is possible to disagree agreeably. It is possible to love others without condoning or approving of values and lifestyle choices. True Christians are to be IN the world, loving unconditionally, while not being OF the world, adapting themselves to the cultural influences in opposition to God’s word. We are mandated to LOVE people, though not necessarily their beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors. Contrary to what we’re being led to believe these days, it IS possible to love people without condoning or approving everything they believe and/or do.
So how does all this apply to open barn doors?
It’s a good thing to keep some doors closed because certain open doors lead to a huge mess. Some doors are kept open so horses have freedom to come and go within their fenced parameters. Some doors remain closed because horses don’t have the sense to know what’s good for them and what’s not. They think they do. Don’t we all?
As one who loves our horses and would hate to see any of them injured or dead, it’s my job to make sure that what should stay shut stays shut and what should remain open stays open.
It’s a wise horse that doesn’t try to become barn manager. Heaven help that horse and its herd the day THAT happens!
But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve . . . But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:15