Sermon Illustrations

Training of Arabian Horses

The gospel we as Christ-followers are called to proclaim requires that we make sacrifices and at times even suffer a bit, but because of what Christ has already done, the return on such sacrifices is enormous! God’s Kingdom is glorified and expanded!

With that in mind, I want to share a story with you. You might also consider it a biology lesson. It is a story about the way in which they train Arab Steeds so as to carry on that particular strain of horses. These Arab Steeds are chosen for breeding and selected in much the same way as we are selected. We are a special people, chosen and called. The breeders of these horses select the best they have. They take the best of each year, each generation that comes along; they pull them out and then they train the horses to obey, to have intelligence, and to be able to do things that will require strength and skill.

Among other things, the horses are taught this: There is one supreme loyalty. When the trainer blows one particular call upon the bugle, it does not make any difference what the horse is doing, that horse is to go to the trainer; across water, over hedges, through barbed wire, against stone walls; somehow the horse is to get to the trainer when that particular blow is sounded by the bugle.

Then, once everything has been done to give the Arab steeds the best kind of training, here is what the trainers do. They take the horses and put them in a great corral at the top of a hill, and they leave them there without water a day and a night, and through the next day. It is burning hot and those horses are without water.

I don’t know whether you have ever been without water for a long time. I have been for long walks in the heat and burning of the day, with nothing but an empty water bottle in my hand and no water fountains nearby. When you get going like that and just have to keep walking, your mouth gets so dry it’s like it’s full of cotton. It is torture to have to go a long time without water. And if it is torture for the human being with the ability to think, imagine what it must be for those Arab horses; twenty-four hours without water. Yet, the trainer persists. Another night goes by, and another maddening day. Forty-eight hours and no water, and night falls again. The horses mill around that great corral, butting themselves against the sides of it, feeling the water down there in the stream at the foot of the hill, calling to their fevered bodies – fifty-two hours, fifty-four hours, fifty-six hours, and still no water.

Then, in the morning, they see the trainer coming up toward the gate of the corral. There before them, down the hill, is the water flowing in the stream. The trainer slips the hasp of the gate and the great gate swings wide. You can imagine the stampede that results as the horses tear down that hill towards the water. Then, when the stampede is at its height, the trainer back inside the gate of the corral blows this bugle, and only those that turn back are considered worthy of carrying on the bloodline of the Arab horse!

We know what it is to have a seemingly unquenchable thirst or insatiable hunger. We know what it is to take that first sip of water after a busy day in the heat, or that first bite of food when our stomachs ache with hunger. The question for us, like the test of the Arab Steeds, is this; when we have our greatest desires within arm’s length and God summons us, will we abandon that pursuit in order to answer God? Will we turn away from what seem to be our greatest hopes and dreams so that we can answer the sounding call of God? Will we climb walls, ford streams, and weave through barbed wire in pursuit of God’s call?

From a sermon by Clair Travis, O How the Mite-y Have Fallen, 11/5/2009

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