Most of the time, when I write, I work on several drafts at once, until I settle into one article for completion. While working on articles about communication and how much God loves us, the phrase, "Don't beat a dead horse" came to me. I stopped writing and said the phrase out loud, simply because I was wondering why such a statement would come out of the topics I was working on. I wrote it down and returned to the other drafts. Within minutes that phrase came back even stronger, and in my heart I knew that God wanted me to write about it.
Once I began to research this peculiar expression I uncovered more than a simple history lesson. I discovered that this catch phrase had nothing to do with my article drafts, but rather the drafts of plans regarding a recent commitment I had made. Over several weeks I had been focused on coming to a decision regarding a new path that I was about to travel up. As the launch date drew nearer I had much peace about the path itself, but I had been careful - interesting choice of words...I will explain later - about the plans that needed to be made prior to beginning the new journey. While studying the phrase: "Don't beat a dead horse," I realized that is exactly what I had been doing with the plans for this new adventure in my life.
Beating a dead horse is useless labor, but it also shows us who we are placing our trust in when challenges come our way.
A person "beating a dead horse" believes that the horse will eventually get up and do what it is asked. The problem with this action is that it places trust in the horse or the one who is doing the work. The person beating the horse believes that if he hits the animal enough it will eventually rise. This is exactly what I had been doing with my plans, beating them, or revisiting them over and over waiting for my work to pay off through this painful process.
What I came to realize was that my plans were not going to progress simply based on me reworking them over and over. I had been putting my trust in my work instead of trusting God to work through me. The ironic thing is that I had trusted in God as I followed His leading towards this new path, but as I began to prepare for the journey I took on the work for myself.
As I said before, I had been "careful" about my preparation plans , which sounds good, but is actually the very root of why I was not getting anywhere. The word careful means to be full of care. Care is an interesting word, because it means different things depending on the context. However, each definition of the word care is rooted in descriptions of: responsibility, attention, state of mind, and or duty. Although we all need to care, our care should first rest in God, so that through Him we are able to progress.
"Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you,"
(1 Pet. 5:7 KJV)
Casting, or tossing, our responsibilities to God may seems irresponsible, but this often times is linked to our misunderstanding of how a real relationship with the Lord works. "As a work in progress" many times I have to remind myself of how much God loves me and that when I ask Him for help, as long as my needs line up with His Word, His answer is always yes. In fact when we try to take on our work without Him we are inadvertently telling Him that we know better than Him how to get the job done. When this happens, I believe that we fall into a trap of perpetual spinning of wheels, producing nothing or at best less than satisfactory results.
Confusion and frustration do not come from God, therefore when we are experiencing this kind of stress we can be sure that God is not involved in whatever it is that we are trying to do. Unlike those sailors, who kept working for what had already been paid, with Jesus we do not have to labor for what He has already paid for, which includes the stress of trying to figure things out on our own. This does not mean that we simply stop working, but rather we begin a new work with God. With God our work must be disciplined, but it becomes light, easy, enjoyable, and the results are better than anything we could ever ask or think.
God trusts us enough to work through us, He is just waiting for us to trust Him and invite Him into our work. Working with God we are able to find rest while we work towards progress. As "a work in progress" when I notice that I am "beating a dead horse," laboring uselessly, I remind myself to lay my work at His feet. He might even revive "the horse" - or our work - so that we can ride off to victory together. Either way, we should be determined to trust Him by stepping back and handing over the reigns.
"For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief,"
(Heb. 4:10-11 KJV)