One day when I was visiting my dad, I asked him to take me horseback riding. I'd been taking riding lessons and wanted to show him what I'd been learning. So he found a place to ride, about an hour or so from his house. By the time we arrived, all the horses had been rented. I was crushed. But Dad was insistent. Wasn't there something for me to ride? After all, he'd called ahead.
So they found a horse that they told Dad would be just right for me. I couldn't go out on the trail, but there was a big ring I could ride around. That was fine. The better for Dad to watch me. Unfortunately, they didn't have an English saddle, either. I'd never ridden Western style, but how different could it be?
So, off we went to the ring. There was a girl about my age taking a lesson in one corner, but plenty of room for me to ride around. After getting comfortable, I started applying English signals for the horse to trot and then canter. Not much happened. I managed to get him to trot toward the shady side of the ring, but not much else. This was embarrassing.
Finally, the instructor took a few minutes to tell me the proper signals for riding Western. They were very different from English riding. Even the way he told me to hold the reins was different. But it seemed to work. The horse began to canter, and I began to smile. Success at last.
Somehow I hadn't realized that my horse was acting like he didn't want to move out of the shady area, probably because it was such a hot day. But I was concentrating on holding the reins right, giving the proper signals, and impressing Dad. The next thing I knew, instead of breaking into a canter, the horse went straight up into the air and then started to bounce stiff-legged around the ring.
The other girl started screaming. The instructor yelled instructions. And I started praying.
At the first buck, I lost both stirrups. However, the English training paid off. I gripped as hard as I could with my knees. I never was scared. But I didn't know what I was supposed to do. I couldn't hear the instructor over the screams of the girl, so I tuned them both out. I just turned to God and knew God was right there. I held on to God. And I knew God was holding on to me. There is a wonderful Bible verse in Isaiah: "For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee" (Isa. 41:13).
Now, I might not have thought of that specific verse as we were bouncing around the ring, but I felt the strength of God with me. So I just kept knowing, "God is here." On the tenth bounce, the instructor was able to grab the reins. I was still in the saddle and still had the reins. And I still wasn't afraid. I thought that the whole problem was all my fault - that I had given the wrong signal. But it turned out that the horse wasn't fully ready to ride yet. He was young, which is why he was still in the stable. But they figured, A little girl in a ring - what possible trouble could that be?
My dad was upset with them, but I wasn't. God had been right there with me, and I'd never felt outside His strong hand. It turned out to be an adventure, and I'd certainly succeeded in impressing Dad.
You may never ride a horse. I haven't for years. But if we suddenly find ourselves in a difficult situation, we can instantly turn to God for help. He is always with us. Whatever we need to know or do, God will tell us. God is holding on to you. So hold on to God.
I will listen for Thy voice,
Lest my footsteps stray;
I will follow and rejoice
All the rugged way.
Mary Baker Eddy
(founder of the Monitor)