bENCOURAGEd to: Step Away From the Dead Horse



Tuesday's Tip to bENCOURAGEd...

Have you ever heard the phrase, "That is like beating a dead horse,"? Most often people say this when someone is doing something that is not going to produce anything. How can this help us to bENCOURAGEd? Let us first explore where this phrase originated?


~ Multiple sources claim that this description came from the phrase "flogging a dead horse" when used by a British politician, referring to people trying to convince Parliament to change their mind regarding a particular reform bill.


~Other Historians date an earlier reference of these sorts of words coming from sailors in the 1600's. These men were paid in advance for their duties at sea only to become frustrated about a month out because they felt as though they were working for nothing, referring to their work as "a dead horse". The dead horse term came from the location at which they usually began their frustration, the "Horse Latitudes", which was about a month's journey out from shore.


Either example reveals what happens when people put their trust in their own exhausted efforts -

discouragement.


When I write, most of the time I work on several drafts at once, until I settle into one article for completion. One writing night, while working on articles about communication and how much God loves us, the phrase, "Don't beat a dead horse" surfaced in my heart. I stopped writing and said the phrase out loud, simply because I was wondering why such a statement would come out of the topics I was working on. I wrote it down and returned to the other drafts. Within minutes that phrase came back even stronger, and in my heart and I knew I needed to explore it.


Once I began to research this peculiar expression I uncovered more than a simple history lesson. I discovered that this catch phrase had nothing to do with my article drafts, but rather the drafts of plans regarding a recent commitment I had made.


For several weeks I had been focused on coming to a decision about a possible new project. As the date drew near I had much peace about the project, but I was being overly careful about the plans to pursue it. While studying the phrase: "Don't beat a dead horse," I realized that is exactly what I had been doing with the plans for this new adventure in my life.


Beating a dead horse is useless labor, but it also shows us who we are putting our trust in - our own effort.


A person "beating a dead horse" believes that the horse will eventually get up and do what it is asked. The problem with this action is that it places trust in the horse or the one who is doing the work. The person beating the horse believes that if he hits the animal enough it will eventually rise. That is exactly what I had been doing with my plans, beating them, or revisiting them over and over waiting for my work to pay off.


What I had not realized, before being prompted by this phrase, was that my plans were not going to progress simply based on me reworking them over and over. I had been putting my trust in my work instead of trusting God to work through me. The ironic thing is that I had trusted in God as I followed His leading towards beginning the project - by moving forward with it even though I did not know all of the details of how the project would be completed. But as I began to prepare all the plans for it I took on the work for myself by analyzing and reworking plans over and over again.


As I said before, I had been "careful" about the preparation plans for the project, which sounds good, but is actually the very root of why I was not getting anywhere. The word careful means to be full of care. Care is an interesting word, because it means different things depending on the context. However, each definition of the word care is rooted in descriptions of: responsibility, attention, state of mind, and or duty. Although we all need to care, our care should first rest in God, so that through Him we are able to progress.


"Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you,"

(1 Pet. 5:7 KJV)


Casting, or tossing, our responsibilities to God my seems irresponsible, but this often times is linked to our misunderstanding of how a real relationship with the Lord works. God trusts us enough to work through us, He is just waiting for us to trust Him and invite Him into our work.


When we take the time to “step away from the dead horse” God may give us a new direction or He might even revive the horse so that we can ride off to victory together. But either way when we loosen our grip we can bENCOURAGEd and not exhausted to get back in the saddle so that we can begin and finish the plans He has for us.


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