Living Hope Ministries
PO Box 1333
Boone, NC 28607

(828) 773-2864
Join Up

This phrase is one that most of us are not familiar with unless you participate in the world of horses. I came across this phrase while reading , The Man who Listens to Horses by Monty Roberts. He is what you would call a real-life horse Whisperer. As a young boy he would spend hours observing horses and how they would relate to one another. It was in this time of observation that he learned the language of horses and how they communicate. This got me thinking that we as human beings, created in the image of God, must have a language we speak to one another and that somehow God has given us a capacity to learn that language and speak it to another in such a way we learn to join-up with one another.

As I read this book, Monty saw growing up
that his father had an old-school mindset as to how to break horses. He would describe his father’s way of breaking a horse as conventional and cruel. It was about breaking the horses will and resistance and come under the direction of the man. It was usually a long drawn out process that took as long as three weeks which inflicted much pain and agony to the horse. This was the method of the day, it worked, and it was how it was always done.

Monty came to see that he could develop a relationship with a horse by learning the language of that horse and actually come to be a partner with him. It wasn’t about one species being dominant over the other but how we can come together to work as partners. He called this phenomenon Join-up and it was considered unconventional, dangerous and would not work. He learned that as he was communicating with the horse, the horse was actually communicating with him and wanted to trust him. Horses are flight animals and ruled by fear. Here is a quote from a book by a man name Parelli who works with horses:

“Horses are animals of prey and are hunted as food by predators that sneak up on them, trap, and kill them. Consequently, horses are always on the lookout for dangerous situations and signs of trouble. Thus, horses, when finding themselves in an unusual or uncomfortable situation, will flee. From our point of view, horses are skeptics, cowards, claustrophobic, and panic-aholics. This is why we run into so many problems with them. To survive in the wild, a horse depends on just how quickly he can escape from danger. It doesn’t matter how quiet, well-behaved, loving, or friendly the horse appears to be. Inside every gentle horse is a wild horse with deeply rooted survival instincts. When a horse feels trapped, he doesn’t think---he reacts. The key is to create a solid relationship of trust between the rider and the horse. That relationship becomes the basis for the rider to help remove resistance in the horse so that the horse builds upon the trust being established, reducing levels of fear. It’s not about forcing an issue----it’s about making the right things easy and the wrong things difficult.”

His experiences helped him learn that he could relate with a
wild horse and cause that horse to join-up with him and within 20 minutes be riding the horse and working together as partners. This was all done by discovering all he had to do was speak in the horses language in such a way that the horse wanted to trust and join in relationship with him.

This reminded me of the story in Matthew 9: 9-13, where
Jesus had just called Matthew the tax-collector to follow him (10). The next verse reads, “Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold many tax collectors and sinners (literally mean irreligious Jews) came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples.” Jesus had joinedup with sinners and tax collectors in such a way that they seemed to be comfortable and relaxed with Jesus as he was with them as it reads “Jesus was reclining at the table in the house.” The posture of reclining would indicate comfortable, relaxed, at ease. We see the contrast in verse (12), “When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” Somehow Jesus, along with the sinners and tax collectors were able to joinup with each other that the Pharisees were not able to do. It appears Jesus was able to know the language of sinners in such a way that they could trust him and join-up with him. The final verse in this section reads, “But go and learn what this means: I desire compassion, and not sacrifice, for I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” His ways seem to be unconventional to many in the day but He won the heart of many who wanted to partner with Him as Matthew did. 

Just as Monty learned the language of horses and learned to communicate in their language to partner with them, I believe that is the same calling that Jesus gives us today. For us to learn compassion and the language of those who may not know the Love of God, so that we can be trusted and people would want to partner and have relationship with us and come into the saving grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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