Without question the horse is one of God’s most majestic creations. In fact, for centuries the horse has been associated with royalty, power, and influence. It’s not hard to understand the multi-cultural affection for the horse if you’ve ever watched this amazing animal trot down the track in a race. It’s no wonder that the Scripture depicts our Lord and Savior returning triumphantly on horseback. While I obviously do not endorse gambling or wagering on the horses, I have to admit that as a baby Christian I learned a powerful lesson from doing so.
For years as a youngster growing up in Southern Illinois I wouldn’t miss the festivities of the annual DuQuoin State Fair and especially the Standardbred trotting classic, the Hambletonian stakes, held at this venue until 1980. When the stakes moved to the Meadowlands, the State of Illinois promoted a new cup known as the World Trotting Derby in DuQuoin. Facing budget cuts, the future of the World Trotting Derby is now in question.
Nonetheless, I had the privilege of watching hundreds of amazing animals through the years and the blessing of receiving a personal revelation through one horse in particular, Hanover Farms’ TV Yankee. TV Yankee (see a file picture here) set a world record in Europe and had all the promise to win the 1983 World Trotting Derby. I was so convinced that this horse would win it all that I put my enormous $2 bet down on TV Yankee to win. Now in the World Trotting Derby a horse had to win two races to take the stakes so I wasn’t too concerned when TV Yankee placed dismally in the middle of the field during his first race. Undaunted, I bet again on TV Yankee to win in his second race. Unfortunately he finished almost dead last. Dismayed but with great faith in this four-legged wonder I headed back to the betting booth to give TV Yankee another try believing that although he was racing in a third race with two winners vying to secure the championship with their second win, he would somehow, some way pull this thing out. By now I had drug my Dad into my fervor and, um, racing ignorance. I placed my third $2 bet and he placed his $20 bet. A few moments later it was post time. I hadn’t even returned to the track when I looked up on the board to see that TV Yankee had scratched (and you don’t get your money back when they scratch after post time).
I’ll never forget what happened next. Within a span of a couple of minutes I heard from my earthly Father and my Heavenly Father. My Dad just shook his head and said playfully, “you big dummy.” My Heavenly Father said something to my heart at that moment that I will never forget and something that has had a great impact on my life. As soon as I saw that TV Yankee had scratched He said, “you have more faith in that horse than you do me.” Ouch. I realized at that very moment I had placed my trust in a horse based on a racing program for the World Trotting Derby but somehow was doubting God ‘s ability and power expressed in our “program for life,” the Bible.
I want to encourage you today to learn to trust the Lord, that is to put your full weight and confidence in his character and in his Word. It’s funny as I remember TV Yankee and my confidence in him that at the same time I was doubting God’s ability to lead my life and provide as I began to discern the first indications that he was calling me into the ministry. How is it that I could have more trust in a horse from the East coast I knew nothing about than the God who created me and saved me? Well, anyway, thanks to TV Yankee and an afternoon at the track, I’ve learned to bet on the Lord Jesus Christ in every area of my life and I want you to know that you can count on him too.