There was a time when the saying “a man without a horse” was widely understood. Its meaning may not be as quickly grasped as it once was. However, the phrase certainly is applicable even in this age where many folks do not or have never owned a horse. “A man without a horse” is one who is incomplete. He is lacking. Perhaps, a similar situation today would be a man without a car, a job, or his spouse. Figuratively a man’s horse is that which gives him the desire to go forward and conquer in life and when it is not there, he struggles with his identity. For the next few minutes, consider how the Bible is the Christian’s horse.
In the early American west, the cowboy would rise each morning with a host of duties to do. He did not wake to a life of idleness and uncertainty about what to do. He had endless duties of mending fence; moving, watering, feeding, or branding cattle; and chores in town. His constant work mate was his horse. In this sense, the Christian and his Bible are like the cowboy and his horse: they are workmates through each and every day. The Christian is not meant to be idle (Matthew 25:24-30). He has many duties to be engaged in. In fact he was created for good works (Ephesians 2:10). The Christian is to follow the example of Christ (I Peter 2:21), teach others (2 Timothy 2:24), encourage (Hebrews 10:24), warn, comfort, support (I Thessalonians 5:14), relieve the widow and orphan, care for saints in need (I John 3:17), and so much more. Through each and every task, his work mate (the Word of God) is to be there with him (Psalm 40:8, 119:69, 80, 112, Ephesians 6:10-17, Colossians 3:16).
As a cowboy goes about his daily work, the horse is his source of power. It transports him, cuts cattle when needed, holds taught the rope that binds a calf, and totes any supplies that he requires. The horse is a power which saves the cowboy much time and effort. The Bible is the source of power for all Christians. It is a power for their salvation by the deliverance from sin (Romans 1:16, I Corinthians 1:18). It is the knowledge of God which gives man all things for life and Godliness. The Word of God provides strength for that Word is Christ (John 1:1, Philippians 4:13).
The horse helps a cowboy travel farther. If he were left to his own path, he would stumble about and become weary. Yet, the horse enables a man to cover terrain with endurance and speed he does not have on his own. The horse gives the cowboy an advantage he simple would not have on his own. The word of God is guide for man’s feet (Psalm 119:105) and if man were left to his own way he would only find destruction (Proverbs 14:12, I Peter 4:17). If a Christian holds fast the Word of God which he is taught he will reach the end of his journey no matter how long it may be (2 Thessalonians 2:15, Hebrews 5:9). The advantage the Bible gives is the key to heaven and life. In it are the words of Jesus (John 6:68) and it is only through Him man will be able to go to the Father (John 14:6).
Being a cowboy is often a lonely profession. There may be long periods of time when there is no one around, but the cowboy’s horse. The horse becomes a good trusted friend, one he often trusts above men. The cowboy relies on the horses steps to be true and relies upon it as a warning in time of danger. He learns the horse in and out and treats it with respect and care. In the same manner a Christian learns to properly handle God’s Word (2 Timothy 2:15). Men may mock or belittle the Christian, but he trusts God’s word above them (Psalm 119:42). Sometimes in this world a Christian feels alone, but if he simply turns to God’s Word, there is comfort (Psalm 119:50).
It should be easy to see the great many similarities between a cowboy with his horse and a Christian with his Bible, but what happens when someone – spiritually speaking – is “a man without a horse”? Consider that a great number of people are like “a man without a horse”, except, they have no clue what they are missing. They have a great ache, but don’t know how to fulfill it. They pursue self actualization, possessions, good works, self denial, approval, recognition, and love of others, yet, at the end of the day, it isn’t enough. Everything comes up empty for them. They are lonely for something and growing weary. Those who seek a true identity will find it (Matthew 7:7). Yet many like the rich young man of Matthew 19:16-22, when presented with the solution to their dilemma, cannot accept it. They become frustrated and reject it as those of Acts 7:57-58. One may point out that many individuals calling themselves Christians also seem to struggle with who they are and what their purpose is. Sadly, this is true. This author and other Christians have at times forgotten where our solace lies. We have ridden on the horse so long that we take it for granted. We begin to think we can do just as good or better on our own. So, we put the Word aside and begin to struggle. Sometimes it takes awhile to realize the foolishness of our choice. Sometimes, folks refuse to admit their foolishness and keep on walking by the power of their own two feet or they just sit down and don’t go anywhere at all. They have once again become incomplete, lacking, “a man without a horse”.
The Word is a steed indeed. Christians must trust it, work with it, rely on its power, and allow themselves to be comforted by it. If their desire is to live eternally in heaven, the Word of God will be there (Isaiah 40:8). It will be just as faithful and true as it has always been. In every good western movie, there is a scene where the cowboy is heading off to happier trails. The movie is ending, a good day’s work has been done, and the cowboy is a silhouette against a sun setting on all cares and troubles. He may have been battered, bruised, beaten, tested, and forsaken. However, his trusted horse is under him and he knows better days lie ahead. When the final day sets on this ball of earth, may those hailing the name of Christ have the trusted Word with them, so they too can draw close to the Son.