Okay, so I admit it. I am stubborn and once I set my mind on something, I don't typically give up until I get it. However, this can sometimes get me into trouble.
Back in my horse riding days I loved to take my horse on week long camping trail rides. These trail rides were enormously fun - loads of people from all over with horses of every kind, western dances that went late into the night, and food galore. There was one particular ride that was located next to a river and this was where I learned to ride a swimming horse, which I thought was the greatest thrill of my life.
Through the years I became so accustomed to pulling a horse trailer, I could back my trailer down the entire length of my 250' barn without looking back. Sometimes people would even hire me to transport their horses for them.
However, my first attempt at hauling a horse was a complete disaster. I had counted on an unreliable boyfriend to take my horse to a trail ride and he let me down at the last minute. Jerk. Okay, then I will do it myself. Never mind that I had never hauled a horse, had never pulled a trailer behind my truck, and it was more than a two-hour drive.
So I rented an old, rusty trailer from a guy down the road, loaded my horse, Erlita, and off we went.
Pretty soon it started raining. Torrential rain. What I didn't realize was that the trailer had a terrible roof leak and there was no rubber mat on the floor under all that straw. (I later learned the guy stopped renting it with the mat because people would steal it.) You can probably guess what happened. The floor of the trailer eventually got as slick as glass and my horse's metal shoes turned into ice skates.
I figured this out when I made the first sharp turn and Erlita fell with such a huge crash that it violently shook the truck. Not sure what had happened, I quickly pulled over, ran back and found my sweet horse sprawled out on the floor of the trailer with her neck still attached to a lead rope.
I can tell you, it is no small task getting a 1,000 pound horse back on its feet in a two-horse trailer with a slick floor, and it's impossible to do without getting your feet trampled. She and I struggled and struggled and both of us ended up completely out of breath before it was all over.
This awful scene repeated itself three more times before I got to my destination - almost five hours later. It seemed that no matter how slowly I drove, every sharp curve caused the same terrible fall. By the time we arrived, Erlita had stopped even trying to get up, which was actually pretty smart of her but frightening to see. We both looked like we had been in a battle. Erlita and I were soaking wet, covered in each other's blood, and I was afraid my horse was crippled for life. (She did end up with a permanent bum knee, which was a daily reminder to me.)
Throughout this entire ordeal I prayed over and over, "Please, Lord! Help me!" He had the power to stop the madness but apparently chose to let us suffer instead.
Later that night as I described this whole traumatic experience around a campfire, I started to remember things that I had overlooked as they took place. I suddenly realized, every single time I found myself struggling on the side of the road, immersed in bad words and tears, some nice person stopped to offer his help.
How did I not notice that? I was so stubborn to do it myself that I turned down every offer with a short, "No, thank you," barely even looking up. Not one time did I consider accepting any help.
Wow. So my prayers were answered three times and I didn't even notice.
This is probably why one of my favorite stories in the Bible is from Acts 12 when Peter was in prison. Naturally he prayed for his release. But when an angel actually showed up, slapped him on the leg to wake up and get out, he did not believe it was real. It had to be a dream.
Then there is more. When he arrived at the home of his friends who were also praying for his release, they did not believe it was even Peter. Surely it was his angel, or I'm sure some believed it was his ghost. Couldn't possibly be what they were praying for.
How many times do we continue to pray for something we are already holding in our hands? And how many times do we turn down God's help because we are determined to do it ourselves?
Yesterday I had the privilege of listening to our women take turns expressing what they were thankful for. As they went around the circle, here were some of the moving stories that touched my heart:
"I am thankful that I am not in jail this Thanksgiving."
"I'm thankful I won't spend Christmas in jail, away from my children, ever again!"
"I am thankful for God's correction."
"I am thankful my daughter and I are back together."
"I'm thankful we are a family again."
So this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my front row seat at the greatest show on earth because I get to learn from my greatest teachers - the beautiful and amazing women we serve. You see, they have the courage to ask for help, the humility to receive it, and the wisdom to know an answered prayer when they see one. My prayer is to be more like them.
Lord, thank you for my heroes that I have the privilege to serve. Amen