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#MyHoneyRock Blog

Posted March 6, 2015 by
Tags: Traditions

by Erin Sharp, Ranch Coordinator

A story of true service, of being planted in a place by God and serving to the best of their ability.

Anyone who knows me is very aware that God has used horses to teach me about what it means to follow Christ. Horses are the greatest teachers on earth because of the gifts that God has given them. It’s hard to find a teacher more equipped with grace and patience then a horse. Maybe you’re asking “How could this be? How could a horse be a teacher?” The answer is Christ. The patience and grace a horse carries is just a small sliver of what our awesome God holds. Through my passion for horses, Christ has given me glimpses of Himself.

Most recently, God has been teaching me to approach life with open hands. The ability to walk forward with confidence simply because I know our awesome God has me in His hands is not a quality that I have not yet perfected. It’s easy for me to feel comfortable when I have a “plan” or lots of cash in savings etc. I must admit that fully giving myself over to Christ and submitting to His plans is a challenge at times. With open hands … I can trust that HE has a plan and that I can rely completely on his provisions.

If you have been to HoneyRock, then chances are you have met our beautiful Percheron draft horses, Phoenix and Eclipse. For the past twelve years, they have served at HoneyRock by giving fully of themselves through numerous sleigh and wagon rides. They have enriched the lives of many simply by engaging fully in their jobs at HoneyRock.

The story of how Phoenix and Eclipse came to HoneyRock is filled with sadness and blessings. Around 2002, a man dying of cancer felt his draft horses needed to find a new home before he passed away. His draft horses were the apple of his eye. It was his wish that Phoenix and Eclipse find a place where they would continue to bless people and where they would be well cared for and loved. My dad (Mark Patterson- Ranch Coordinator at the time) and Don Kerns went to meet this man and learn more about his horses. It didn’t take long for Mark and Don to see how much these two horses meant to the dying man and how truly special these horses were.

Horses at HoneyRock, Wheaton College's outdoor center for leadership development

Phoenix and Eclipse soon found themselves in a new place surrounded by nothing familiar. They did not choose to leave their home with their beloved owner. In fact, I’m sure if you asked them, they would have chosen to stay in a familiar place where life was comfortable. Not long after their arrival at HoneyRock, cancer took the man’s life and with it, everything his horses had come to know as home. God knew this would happen and in His provision, Phoenix and Eclipse came to HoneyRock.

Psalm 36:5-6 (NIV)
5 Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens,
Your faithfulness to the skies.
6 Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, LORD, preserve both people and animals.

Horses at HoneyRock, Wheaton College's outdoor center for leadership development

Throughout their years at HoneyRock, they have served faithfully. This does not mean there weren’t hard days for these horses. Regardless, Phoenix and Eclipse have been fully engaged in doing God’s work and because this, many of us are blessed. Phoenix and Eclipse truly reflect the light of our awesome God.

Now, the years of hard work have begun to show itself upon their aging bodies. They don’t have the endurance and strength they once did. So, in His wisdom … God has pressed into me the hard reality that it is, once again, time for Phoenix and Eclipse to move on. Driving for hours with my dad on the cold winter nights or going out to wrangler breakfast every morning in the summer are just some of my precious memories with Phoenix and Eclipse.

My first reaction is to hold them close and keep them here at HoneyRock. Letting them go feels like letting go of all the beautiful memories that includes to two majestic creatures.

What if the original owner never responded to God calling him to donate them to HoneyRock? He, too, could have kept his hands closed and not let God use the horses to bless so many. So who am I to limit God’s work through these horses? Just because they can no longer fill roles at HoneyRock does not mean they are done.

All along God knew this day would come and I know now that He has a new plan for Phoenix and Eclipse. God has provided a retirement home, where these two wonderful horses can continue to bless people. Phoenix and Eclipse have given me a beautiful example of how keeping open hands allows God to do his work through me … not limiting myself to the things that “I” can control. The act of letting go and trusting in God has blessed my life a million times over and I pray that I can continue to embrace Christ in my journey through life.