The new horse whirled around her pen, tail held high like a flag. She was more than a little upset and confused. She had been forced, quite against her will, into a trailer that morning, and had been driven for hours before finally arriving here. When her owners had stopped for a rest along the way, she had not been let out to stretch her cramped, energetic legs. They had said that it wasn’t worth the trouble of getting her back in.
Unwilling was a pretty thing, or so she herself thought. Her head was really the only pretty part, beautifully formed, with deep, dark eyes. The rest of her worked just fine, but wasn’t what any real horseman would look for. All the same, as she danced and wheeled she was aware of two men standing calmly by, leaning on the fence and looking at her. She trotted half to show off and half to find a way out of there. She did not like how the one fellow looked, the one addressed as King. He looked like he would be work.
“What are you going to do with her, King?” This was the younger fellow. The mare in the pen was not worried about him, for he did not look as experienced as his companion.
“I shall train her, Faithful and True.” King’s voice held nothing but kindness, but he sounded determined. His tone told Unwilling that he knew everything about her already, and she thought, puzzled, that they had only just met. This idea scared her. She fled to the other side of the pen and stood there, trembling, tail to the men, shaking her sides with whinnies for help.
The next day passed as a nightmare for Unwilling. Everything was new, and that was bad enough, but King then entered her pen and stood in the middle. There was no way for her to distance herself from him. Wherever she went, he was still close – too close, she thought. She determined never to let him touch her; he might muss her soft, white coat. Twice, frightened and exasperated by his being so close, she struck out at him, the first time with her teeth, the second time with her hooves. Both times she received the same answer – a swift, memorable correction, and then the offer of peace and King’s outstretched hand. Unwilling turned her head away, aloof, refusing to acknowledge him, and continued to pace the perimeter of her pen.
The second day when King entered, Unwilling did not move from her place at the far end of the pen. Her position was sullen and uninviting, but she had really just been thinking how nice it would be to have someone who understood her. King went to the middle of her pen again. She could feel his all-knowing gaze fixed upon her, and she felt the uncomfortableness of her thoughts becoming his, and then, strangely, his becoming hers. She did not move when he approached her shoulder, only turned her head slightly away when he put out his hand, so as to suggest he should not touch her, but he did anyway, and it was not at all unpleasant.
After this, Unwilling would greet King, though reservedly, and even look forward to his daily coming. She began to complacently enjoy her circumstances, and as soon as she did, she found the penetrating eyes of King on her once more, and things changed. That day he came with a halter and rope in his hand and when Unwilling greeted him as usual, he petted her as usual in all the right places, and then put the halter on. She did not object. But when he took her to the gate of the pen, opened it, and asked her to go out, she refused. She did not know what was out there. There were plenty of new horses she did not care to meet, plenty of unknown dangers. Why, only yesterday there had been a frightful noise in the very direction King wished her to go! She said no. He told her again to go. She shouted no. But when King’s position did not change, and he stood there, pulling solidly on her halter rope for ten minutes, she began to run out of plausible excuses and lifted her front feet off of the ground in plain defiance. Whap! King’s end of the lead rope found its mark, and Unwilling plunged through the gate, suddenly willing to follow.
Everything new distracted Unwilling, though. She craned her neck this way and that with deep brown eyes full of tense wonder, showing their white outer rim. She forget entirely about King and looked instead at all the sights, sights King did not yet wish her to see, for she jumped at some and trembled at others. Each time she wove across the path into his side, bumping him rudely, he would stop calmly and correct her, pushing her away the proper distance, and then they would walk on again. He did this over and over again for several days until Unwilling learned how to walk close by his side, head lowered, calm no matter what they passed.
Unwilling soon became contented in this too, for she enjoyed her daily walks with King and indeed wished that they should never end. But as soon as this thought entered her mind, there was King, reading her thoughts again. When King took her out for her next walk, he turned left instead of going straight, leading Unwilling up the path all the other horses he trained went daily, and he took her into the arena. She objected only slightly, but by now she had learned to read her trainer, and when she saw that he was not at all worried, she relaxed and followed.
That day’s lesson was hard for Unwilling, and when she found herself back in her pen, she was sweaty, though King had brushed her nicely and had even sponged her off. The lesson had involved placing an odd leather thing on her back. She hadn’t wanted it there, and had tossed it off. King had been obviously displeased, and their difference of opinion resulted in a battle that Unwilling did not wish to think about, though it had not been violent. Unwilling lay down in the shade, ready to fall asleep. But just before she did, she noticed King standing again at her fence with the younger man beside him, just as they had stood the day she had arrived.
“What are you going to do with her?” the younger man asked again.
“I am well pleased with her so far,” King answered with a proud smile in his voice. “She still has much to learn, of course. But she is becoming more beautiful by the day, and when I am finished with her, there shall be no creature more beautiful than her in all the Kingdom. Then her name shall no longer be Unwilling, but instead she shall be known as the Mount of Faithful and True, for I give her to you. She is the one you will ride on the Last Day.”
Continually, we are treated by God in the same manner as an animal in training is treated by its trainer. God is patient and kind, but just and jealous. He knows what we feel, and when we are ready, He moves us on towards the heights, gradually making us into the perfect creation we were meant to be.