My father was a real cowboy, not a dude. He rode in the last remnants of the Old West. He told me a story of riding across an Arizona desert in the 1920s and running out of water. The situation would have had a dangerous conclusion had he not done one thing – he dropped the reins and gave his horse the lead.
The horse changed direction and traveled off the original trail leading my dad to a small sump containing just enough water to offer the horse and my father a drink. Pure water is odorless. What a horse smells is the evidence of life that surrounds the water like vegetation, minerals, and other things associated with the presence of water. Because the horse took the lead and followed the scent of those elements, my father was able to complete the ride and live to see another day.
As I look across the social landscape of our world, it looks like a dry desert. The promises offered to us apart from God have proven to have no ability to sustain life. They keep us on waterless trails that will lead us to a place of spiritual and emotional death. In this perilous journey of life, we all will come to a place where our only remaining option is to trust God or die. At that point, we need to drop the reins and allow the Spirit to take the lead and bring us to a place of refreshment. If not, we will end up dying in the saddle of our self-determination thinking we knew best how to cross the dry desert of a challenging season.
Our reins can represent overconfidence in self, our social status, our current level of faith, or what we have in the bank. None of those things can lead us to a place where the evidence of life exists.
Just before Jesus’ arrest, He was giving final instructions to His disciples on how to live after He departed this earth and ascended to the Father. He said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future” (John 16:13).
Only when we are willing to drop the reins of our lives can we be led into all truth, even some truth we did not know existed. When we are no longer leading our life and come under the guidance of the Spirit, we will begin to hear and see things about the future that will remove the fear of crossing a spiritual desert because we know the Lord will always lead us to a place where we will find evidence of life no matter how dry the surrounding circumstance might appear.