Horses can teach you a great deal about life. Such is the take-home from my conversation this morning over breakfast. I sat next to John, a retired horse trainer, at the counter at the local diner. He has shown horses in 28 states as well as eastern and western Canada. We talked about raising and training horses and the life lessons he’s been able to gather from his experience.
“What do you think is the biggest factor in making a horse a champion?” I asked.
“It’s heart,” he said. “The horse has to have the inner drive.”
“Can this be taught or impressed upon a horse?”
“No,” he assured me.
“Then how do you know if a horse has it?”
“You have to try him.”
This is true also for the Christian life. How do we know if we have a new heart—that drive to push through the struggles we encounter each day? How do we know if Christ is living in and through us? It’s on the track of everyday life. Job says, “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold” (Job 23:10). When I was a much younger man, this was my favorite verse. I used to read it triumphantly, thinking that Job was speaking about his resolve. No matter what came his way, Job would fight through it and come out as gold. It wasn’t until much later in my own life that I read this verse in context. It’s about how God uses suffering to purify us as a goldsmith melts gold in a crucible in order to remove the dross. Each and every moment in the Christian life is a test, a trial that God uses to remove the impurities from his people. And when he has tried them, their core will show.
Faith-union with Christ bears fruit through suffering. When the Christian is conformed to Christ’s sufferings, his or her inner life is revealed. Paul speaks about this reality in his letter to the Philippians. Christ moved from a life of suffering unto a life of glory, and the Christian life follows that same pattern (cf. Phil 2:5–11). For when Christians become like him in his sufferings, they will become like him in his subsequent glory (cf. Phil 3:10–11, 21).
How then do we know if we have the heart—the inner drive to persevere on the track of life? Believe in Jesus. Repent of your sins. And look to his Spirit to give you the strength to push through (cf. Phil 1:6; Rom 8:28–30).