Horses in Heaven
by Joseph Perrello
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"Horses in Heaven"
Heaven's horses opened a wedge for the Gospel to reach a horse trainer.
HORSES IN HEAVEN
It was the Sunday after Christmas. The morning service had ended, and our threesome was sitting in a restaurant. Acting as hostess on behalf of a local church was a senior pastor's wife. Until her husband, one of our former district officials, was promoted into the Presence of the Lord several years ago, she ministered with him in another town. Now her talents were being utilized by this assembly. She played the organ and assisted wherever needed.
This was the last Sunday of my three-month tenure as the church's interim pastor; the new pastor was arriving with the New Year. At the board's request, our hostess treated my wife, Marie, and me to dinner.
The food was excellent. The service was courteous and efficient. At the meal's conclusion, the hostess handed the waitress a church check, adding a generous tip to the amount of the bill. We were conversing over coffee when the waitress again approached and lingered, as though reluctant to leave. We complimented her on her efficiency and she immediately engaged us in conversation.
I'm only a part-time waitress. I've trained race horses since I was a kid. This year's racing season's not open yet, so I'm doing this."
What she said instantly captivated our attention. We knew the city was famous for horse racing, so we listened attentively as trainer recounted some her experiences. She told of a special race one of her horses won. She described foaling procedures, and the patience required to make a horse profitable. Her expressive features displayed deep sadness when she described the terrible sense of loss she felt when one of her horses was "put down." It was evident the woman knew and loved horses.
As she spoke, I could sense my companions praying with me for an opening to witness to her. Evidently, she knew we were affiliated with a church by the information on the check. She did not randomly select us for conversation; she was interested in more than horses. How could we make a transition from horses to Christ?
At the risk of sounding flippant, I asked, "Do you know there are horses in heaven? Have you heard that Jesus and His armies shall come to earth riding on white horses?"
"I hope it's soon," she replied, "no one else has the answer to problems of the world."
"Are you ready for Christ's return?"
"Well, sometimes I attend services with my fiancée at the veteran's hospital. He's a patient there."
Prayerfully, we led the conversation into God's plan of salvation. We told her the story of Jesus and Nicodemus and followed it with the story of the Philippian jailer. Her features softened and her eyes grew moist. We knew the Gospel had touched her.
"May we pray with you?"
The horse trainer immediately consented. Manifesting no embarrassment, she joined hands with us and bowed her head in full view of the diners and her coworkers. We sensed the enveloping presence of the Holy Spirit, as our hostess prayed for the Lord to redeem the women.
When we invited her to visit the church, she responded, "Yes, I'll be there."
The church was constructing a new sanctuary and educational wing, and converting the old sancutary into an extension of the new wing.
"I've been noticing the church's new building. It's going to be beautiful. I'd like to see the inside when it's finished."
"Well, you have my personal invitation to visit us even before it's completed," answered the pastor's wife, "Do you have a Bible?"
The trainer said she owned one. She promised to read the Gospel of John and the book of Acts.
"Thank you so much for talking with me. I must get back to my work. I won't be able visit your church next Sunday because I have to work, but I'll be there soon."
"There are horses in heaven!" What a childlike statement. In our quest for profundity, we tend to relegate such simple themes to the realm of allegory. We feel foolish conferring a serious voice on them. But, with infinite unpretentiousness, God anoints simplicity to seed His Word in receptive hearts.
Heaven's horses opened a wedge for the Gospel, focusing a horse trainer's attention on Christ, the greatest Equestrian of all!
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