The father and his tween son watched the horse. This horse was magnificent. A dark stallion with a large head and an unusual white marking on his forehead, he seemed to dare anyone to come close.
The pair watched the stallion. He was unusually beautiful, and unusually expensive. Rumors swirled about him.
“He surpasses Pegasus,” they said.
“The one who rides this horse will rule the world.”
The father was a king. This strong-willed stallion captured his eye.
The king ordered rider after rider to mount the horse. But the horse was dangerous. No one could mount him, much less ride him.
The young prince watched until eventually the king gave up. The price of the horse was too high. , And the horse that could not be tamed. The king ordered the horse be taken away.
The son watched carefully as the attendant approached the stallion to try and lead him away. As the sun gleamed bright behind him, the magnificent animal snorted and reared. The prince understood.
“Father, it would be a shame to waste such a horse. I can tame him.”
As the horse pawed at the air, the king turned to his son amazed at his arrogance. “My best attendants have been trying to tame this horse and you think you can do better?”
“I do. And I bet the price of this horse, $25,000, that I can tame him.”
Thinking his son had a lesson to learn that day, the king agreed.
The prince approached the horse. Gently, calmly, slowly, the young man eased his hand onto the bridle. The horse jerked his head and snorted, but sensed something different in this one. With soothing whispers and steady hands, the prince calmed the horse.
The attendants paused to watch thinking they were going to see royalty dumped on the ground. But they were wrong.
The king stood alone. Skeptical, arms cross.
The prince turned turned the stallion to face the sun. The shadows that had frightened the horse disappeared in the glare.
The horse snorted and side-stepped a bit, but didn’t rear, didn’t bolt. The young man continued his whispering as he rubbed his hands over the horse’s back and flanks. And then slowly, the prince eased himself onto the horse’s back. The stallion stood alert, but calm, ears back trying to understand this confident rider on his back.
With pride swelling his chest and joy shining in his eyes, the king called to the prince, “Alexander, my son, Macedonia is too small. You need to find a larger kingdom to conquer!”
Alexander had recognized that this horse, who he named Bucephalus, was afraid of the shadows. And when the stallion rose up, the shadows grew larger and frightened him more. When he turned the horse toward the sun, the shadows disappeared. With the shadows gone, Bucephalus was free to respond to his rider.
Alexander and Bucephalus became inseparable. Macedonia was indeed too small of a kingdom for Alexander. Together he and Bucephalus conquered Greece, Egypt, India.
You and I can be a lot like that stallion — afraid of shadows and in danger of wasting our lives.
When Paul writes the Philippians urging them to “live a life worthy of the gospel of Christ,” he gives three key strategies.
1. Stand firm in one spirit
2. Strive side by side
3. Expect opposition
Expect opposition and don’t let it frighten you. If you are pursuing Christ, really living for him, you will face opposition. But that opposition is really like a shifting shadow. And when we are afraid of shadows, we are in danger of wasting our lives.
You don’t have to be afraid of anything. Because, in reality, what is the worst that could happen? You could die. And then you’d be with Christ, which we know is far better. You become untouchable.
When you live with courage for Christ, not only do you avoid wasting your life, you show that the gospel is true.
Your courage gives the world a sign that points to your salvation. Are you tired of being afraid of shadows? Are you ready to stop wasting your life? Are you ready set aside the fear and live with courage for Christ?
Just like the stallion had to trust Alexander, we have to trust God. Let him turn you away from the shadows and give you his perspective on the obstacles you are facing.
Stop the frantic activity. Let God whisper to you. Let him tell you who he created you to be, what his purposes are for you. Give God the reins.
At first it may feel uncomfortable to surrender control and allow God to guide your path. But the more you obey him, the more peace you will feel in his leadership.
If you are doing life your way, you can’t imagine that following God would bring you joy. It seems counterintuitive. Once the stallion surrendered to Alexander, he got a name, he got a mission, but even more he got a relationship.
What would it look like for you today to slow the pace and surrender to God? What would it look like to take your focus off of the shadows and fix your eyes on Christ? What would it be like to settle into a relationship with God? What would it be like to set aside the fear and live with courage for Christ?
The God-centered life is a courageous life. Stop fearing shadows and step into a life of purpose.