“Stopping Lessons”

Songdove Books - Feb 2015 Stopping Lesson

Songdove Books - Feb 2015 Stopping LessonSee there’s this horse, and she doesn’t like to stop.  My daughter’s been training her from “track broke” for over a year now when  training began in February of 2015.  She can walk, trot, canter (needs help with transitioning up to Canter however, and with balancing), go over trot poles, ground rails, uneven trot poles, and has begun learning how to jump under saddle.  But the mare doesn’t like stopping.

I remember her first stopping lesson.  My daughter groomed her, tacked her up, got into the saddle, walked to the middle of the arena and made the mare stand still.  She wasn’t allowed to move and had to be brought back to the middle several times until she finally stood quietly.  She wasn’t allowed to root or engage in tense or nervous behaviour either.  She had to stand still under her rider.

A year later, the stopping lesson had to be revisited.  It was a windy day this time, and horse people know that not all horses handle the wind very well while others seem unphased by it.  This horse is fine occasionally, antsy other times, and flighty other days, and this particular day, she was a bit on the antsy, amped up side of life.  Being told to stand facing the direction the wind was coming from was met with a fair bit of feisty behaviour at first.  My daughter just kept bringing her back to the spot where the mare was to stop every single time.  Eventually, the mare stopped.  Then she stopped for a longer period of time.  Then my daughter began changing directions after walking loops.  The poor mare had spent so much energy first accepting and then seeking to give what my daughter was asking, that she actually walked out of the arena that day, sweaty!

voice-recognitionI got thinking about her behaviour in comparison to human behaviour.  We live in a society where the mantra is “go go GO!”.  The idea of stopping only seems to be taught by the fringe ethereal crowd and those teaching various forms of Eastern Meditation (of which yoga is one such method, the lotus position is another).  Society understand the “need” to unplug and slow down, but resists the “needs” that must be put in place to truly stop.

retina-displayWhen you press people about why they refuse to stop, about why they must keep going at all costs, the answers are very interesting.  For some, their worth is in their activity.  If they aren’t working, playing on the sports field, or running around their favourite charity, they feel “less than” and unfulfilled.  They don’t see how stopping or slowing down contributes to their sense of who they are.  For others, they are running.  If they don’t stay busy, whether mentally or physically, then they are left to face themselves and their own thoughts, which to them is a very scary place to be.  They avoid it at all costs.  You’ll even hear these reasons from fellow believers and followers of Jesus Christ.

Christ calls us to come away and spend time with Him.  God the Father told Elijah that He speaks in a still small voice.  God calls to us saying, “Be still and know that I am God”, “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord in your midst”.  Repeatedly, we are urged throughout the Scriptures to leave our busy lifestyles to come apart and be still in God’s presence.

Being still before God has a number of benefits:

  1.  When you push out the clamour of life, you can hear God’s voice through your devotional time much more clearly.
  2. When you leave life’s busyness for a while, you allow God’s peace to enter your heart and mind.
  3. Quieting yourself for a few minutes may reveal thoughts and emotions that haven’t been constructively dealt with.  This time becomes the perfect appointment to meet with Dr God and bring these issues to Him for clarity, resolution or healing.
  4. Making quiet time allows the body itself to slow down and begin healing itself.  We were not built for stress, but “go go go” keeps our bodies in a heightened level of stress that eventually begins to break down various functions, causing them to malfunction and producing maladies the doctors can only treat symptoms for.
  5. Entering a quiet time can clear clutter while you focus on prayer or God’s Word, allowing your mind to see things more clearly when you leave that quiet space, enhancing the ability to make better judgement calls.

The list could go on.

Songdove Books - March 2016 Reaction after jumpBefore we can realize these benefits however, some of us need stopping lessons!  Some of us need to pull our reins up short and dance around for a while in one spot until we finally quit dancing and stand or sit still before the Lord. Some of us fight this need to stop as if stopping would somehow kill us!  Such people have to have the TV droning on in the background no matter what is on.  Others have to have music playing constantly or they risk running into their own thoughts and feelings.  Others have to be involved in sports, exercise routines, constantly have a craft on the go or living in their kitchen because the alternative is just not acceptable.

But to invest in relationships with others, we have to stop at times.  We have to stop long enough to say Good Morning, or hold a conversation, do things for other person, or enjoy their company.  Our relationship with God requires the same things from us, but because we can’t see Him face to face, we equate stopping with running smack into ourselves instead.  To a certain degree that does happen too.  God reveals things to us in our quiet times that He wants us to deal with, or that He wants to deal with Himself.  If we are always resisting those moments of relationship-building with God because we don’t want to face ourselves, we are missing out on a huge part of how God wants to interact with us!

All God wants is our willingness to spend time with Him, letting Him into our lives in whatever way He wishes, to whatever depth He wishes. Yes it seems scary at first.  Yes it seems unnatural at first.  Yes every ounce of our being may fight it with everything we’ve got!  But when we finally push through into that place of stillness, God will meet us there.  And that’s a fact!

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