My Old Mare by Kim A Goodin
I bet when you read the title you thought I would be referring to my beautiful wife Cindy. You couldn’t be further from the truth. I would never call Cindy anything unfaltering and I only speak of Cindy in love. The title actually refers to our old mare.
If you remember we have a small farm that includes horses and in this case I am speaking of our old mare. We jokingly say that horses come to our farm to retire as most of the horses we obtain are older horses. Rainy however took the cake when she first arrived just over three years ago.
We had been told by the owner that we would be getting a ten year old western pleasure quarter horse that any one could ride. She was especially gentle and the perfect horse for our daughter who wanted a western show horse at the time. Instead when she arrived all our expectations flew out the window. She was an old bucket of bones that already looked like she had one hoof in the grave. She was actually in her late twenties, well past her teen years. I almost told the person delivering her to just put her back on the trailer and that our deal was off. BUT there was just something about the way she looked at me that seemed to say she needed us more than we needed her.
In a few months we had her looking much better. She had gained weight and we could no longer see her rib cage. I saddled her for the first time and went for a short ride. She was truly gentle because she went at her own pace. She had two speeds either slow or stopped. Actually if she thought we were about done she could pick up the pace with a little trot taking you directly back to where you had saddled her.
Rainy would become my horse. I would bring her treats and give her a little more loving than the other horses. She got to be a really dear pet. She followed me around any time I was any where near the fence line or in the pasture. She would nudge me with her nose as if asking, “What did you bring me?” And any time I would whistle no matter where she was in the pasture, she would come trotting to me.
For the last year and a half she has mostly been retired. No one has ridden her because of her age and our other five horses could all give much better rides than Rainy ever would. Yet she remained a faithful pet that always seemed happy to see me any time I was outside.
Now this is where the story gets really sad and the reason I am sharing this as a devotional. Saturday afternoon, March 1, 2008, Rainy went down. We were away and got the call to come home because one of our horses was down. When we arrived I thought Rainy was died as she was on the ground as still as she could be. Our neighbor was standing by watching. As soon as I entered the pasture and called Rainy’s name she whinnied and tried to get up. She responded to my voice of comfort. Our neighbor said it was the first time she had whinnied or responded in any way all day. We got her some water and she happily drank as I rubbed her neck. She still couldn’t get off the ground but she was sitting up.
She never regained enough strength to get on her feet. In fact I had to sit against her to keep her sitting upright. I was able to look over her ears and remember the view I had seen many times before when I had been riding her. She seemed to be more comfortable in this sitting position so I remained there until the vet arrived about an hour later to administer the drug to put her down. The whole time I was waiting with Rainy she would try to rub against me and whinnied a couple more times as if to assure me that everything was all right.
Even when the vet stuck the needle into Rainy’s neck, she looked at me with those big brown trusting eyes and didn’t struggle a bit. Thankfully within a minute or two she drew her last breath and it was over. She was no longer suffering but I can’t describe how painful it was for the rest of us.
Here comes the devotional part of the story. Rainy responded to my voice with as much strength and love as she could muster even in her final hour. She knew my voice. How much more should we be able to respond to our spouse’s voice when he or she speaks to us? A huge complaint I have heard from couples (especially women) is how their spouse will sit in front of the TV or be so into whatever project they are working on that they wouldn’t hear a bomb explode much less the voice of their spouse speaking to them.
As Christians we also need to hear God’s voice as He speaks to us through His word or even in an audible voice. The Bible says in John 10 that the sheep knows the shepherd’s voice and follows him.
John 10:3,4,5 (The shepherd) calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. John 10:11, 14, 15 (Jesus said) I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my [sheep], and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
That is what we are called to do: follow God’s calling in our lives where ever He leads. Also as a Christian couple, we need to be more attentive of our spouse’s voice. Just as Rainy gave her final strength and effort in response to my voice, we need to keep working towards a strong marriage and a close Christian walk with God even until we breathe our last breath.
Kim A Goodin
President, Family Legacy Ministries and author of "A Forever Love Story Surviving Trials in Marriage