Did You Lose Your Horse Today?

Like most of you, I have been hearing a lot of personal examples of “disaster” this week.  No gas, no job, no retirement fund, worthless stock, cancelled vacations, and general uncertainty.  Rather than trying to create something profound I’d like to share this old story.

Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village. Although poor, he was envied by all, because he owned a beautiful white horse. People offered fabulous prices for the horse, but the old man always refused. “This horse is a friend, not a possession,” he would respond.

One morning the horse was not in the stable. All the villagers said, “You old fool. We told you someone would steal that beautiful horse. You could at least have gotten the money. Now the horse is gone, and you’ve been cursed with misfortune.”

The old man responded, “Perhaps. All I know is that my horse is gone; the rest I do not know. Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I can’t say.”

After fifteen days the horse returned. He hadn’t been stolen; he had run away into the forest. Not only had he returned, he had brought a dozen wild horses back with him. Once again the village people gathered around the old man and said, “You were right – what we thought was a curse was a blessing. Please forgive us.” The old man responded, “Perhaps. Once again you’ve gone too far. How do you know if this is a blessing or a curse? Unless you can see the whole story, how can you judge?” But the people could only see the obvious. The old man now had twelve additional horses that could be broken and sold for a great deal of money.

The old man had a son, an only son. He began to break the wild horses. Unfortunately, after just a few days, he fell from a horse and broke both his legs. Once again the villagers gathered around the old man and said, “You were right. The wild horses were not a blessing; they were a curse. Your only son has broken his legs and now in your old age you have no one to help you. You are poorer than ever.” But the old man said, “Perhaps. Don’t go so far. Say only that my son broke his legs. We have only a fragment of the whole story.”

It so happened that a few weeks later the country went to war with a neighboring country. All the young men of the village were required to join the army. Only the son of the old man was excluded, because he had two broken legs. Once again the people gathered around, crying because there was little chance their sons would return. “You were right, old man.  Your son’s accident was a blessing.  Our sons are gone forever.”

The old man spoke again. “You people are always quick to jump to conclusions. Only God knows the final story.”

And so it is with our lives. What we see as a blessing or a curse may simply be part of God’s preparation for what lies ahead.  Be careful in seeing “disaster” in any change.  Just recognize it as change – which opens the door for good as well as bad – for gain as well as possible loss.

I’ve spent 20 years seeing people go through unexpected and unwelcome change – and have enjoyed seeing most move on to more opportunity, freedom, fulfillment and income.

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27 Responses to “Did You Lose Your Horse Today?”

  1. Kurt Boyle Says:

    Dan,

    Great story! I can definitely relate to this story. I am currently searching for my next job. Things are tight, but I know God has something good planned for me – because He is a good, loving God.

    I once heard an analogy on radio that, paraphrased, said, “When God is working, things will sometimes look like road construction. Everything will look like a mess at first, but when finished, will be even better than before.”

    Thank you for your inspiring newsletter and encouragement for all of us who struggle with work. God bless you!

    Kurt

  2. Robby Says:

    I needed this story. It is so easy to be side tracked with life. So much is going on in my life now I’m not sure what my next step will or should be. My goal is to be in Gods will – to proceed in my “vocation/calling” – it seems as thought ever time I take 1 step forward I take two steps back. Is it a blessing or a curse only God know but I can not give up.

    From Houston

  3. Marshall Sherman Says:

    Dan,
    That is a great story. I have found myself growing through those extremes. Several years ago I heard someone say, “nothing is as bad as it seems or as good as it seems.” I grabbed hold of that and it brought much stability to my life. I have come to realize that God has me in a process and when circumstances seem negative, it’s not as bad as it seems. And I gather my faith to move forward. When circumstances are good, I realize that it’s not as good as it seems, and I begin to look around and see other things that I need to do or work on and sometimes its just to keep going rather than becoming passive because things look good.

    I find this applies to all areas of life, relationships, finances, spiritual etc.

    Thank you for your news letters and broadcasts.

    Marshall

  4. Adam Says:

    Dan,

    Your story brought tears to my eyes. It was EXACTLY what I needed to hear today. I too am looking for a “job”, have just gone through a heartbreaking divorce, and have several rental properties that may go to foreclosure. Are these curses or blessings? Only God knows. Reading a story like that makes me remember to place my fears and hopes at the feet of my Higher Power. Only He knows the end of the story for our lives. It is just our job to persevere through those times and have faith that we will be brought through a better, more complete person. Trials give us strength and sometimes I forget that. It’s hard when you see a bleak future ahead of you, but I need to remember it could just as easily be a positive future as well. It’s 50/50 and dwelling on the negatives that “could” happen lead nowhere. Today, because your story reminded me of this, I CHOOSE to consider the GOOD outcomes. The POSITIVE future I will have. And I will always remember to “live in this moment” when my negative thoughts surround me.

    Thanks for the reminder. You helped me today.
    Adam

  5. Cody Alley Says:

    Dan,

    I completely agree. It seems that the emotions of the media–and those influenced by it–rise and fall depending on what is happening at the moment. I guess I can’t entirely blame the media because drama sells and the public buys into it.

    I believe it was in No More Mondays that you mentioned that determination is a key ingredient in our success. True determination will persevere through good and bad times. I’m still learning this. I grew up with the habit of giving up when things got hard and this is quite difficult to unlearn.

    Your books, your podcast and your newsletters give me frequent reminders that good things are out there for those who strive for them. I truly thank you.

    Cody A

  6. Jay Peroni Says:

    Dan, Great story! In times of darkness, everyone seems to be acting like chicken little. Do you remember the story?

    As the story goes, Chicken Little was walking through the forest one day when an acorn fell on her head. She thought at that moment the sky must be falling and decided she needed to alert the king so he could take proper action. She overreacted because of fear.

    There are times when fear runs our lives as well. Inflation is out of whack. The economy is slipping into a recession. Debt is at an all-time high. You may hear bad news every day. Don’t be a Chicken Little. Don’t be afraid. The sky is not falling. Even when the markets are going in the wrong direction, don’t give up hope. They will go back up. The market has survived the threat of global extinction, great depressions, world wars, presidential assassinations, and terrorist attacks, to name a few.

    Downturns are temporary, but the upward trends of the markets are permanent. Cling to your faith in God and trust Him during the scary times. Worry only validates our lack of trust in Him. Pray when you are feeling down and out. God will give you the strength to get through your darkest hours.

    Jay Peroni, CFP
    Author of The Faith-Based Millionaire
    http://www.jayperoni.com

  7. Jeff Cockrell Says:

    Dan,

    This is an excellent example of our limited view of life and circumstance.

    Reading it, I was reminded of the final battle in Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Although the battle for the White City has been won, Frodo and Sam are still trying to cross Mordor to destroy the Ring. And NO ONE KNOWS THAT FOR SURE but Frodo and Sam.

    Still, Aragorn leads the remains of the army of men against the hordes of Sauron, in a hopeless battle. Which gives Frodo and Sam the chance they need to reach Mount Doom and destroy the Ring.

    Our main business is not to see what lies dimly in the distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand — Thomas Carlyle

  8. Bob Says:

    Faith is believing in the things we cannot see. We cannot always see the path that God has in store for us, but we know who He is, and can put our full faith and trust in Him because he is constant, infinitely good, and loves us beyond our imaginations. He does not disappoint. When I have prayed for assistance I have always received more than what I asked for and the solutions have been remarkably better than any I would have created. But my prayers were accompanied by many tears and I struggled through moments of doubt. But each successful outcome increases my faith and trust in the God who loves perfectly and does not disappoint.

    As a good and loving Father, God is always ready…anxiously waiting to give us gifts that are truly good for us and lead us to eternal salvation. But gifts can sometimes be scary because, to truly accept a gift, we must be willing to be changed by the gift. To accept a gift given in love, we must be willing and open to accepting that love and what it reveals about ourselves. God’s gifts always tell us the truth about Himself and ourselves. And that’s the scary part. God knows us so intimately that His gifts touch the most intimate parts of us and reveal to us the deepest truths about ourselves. To receive God’s gifts, we must be willing to accept and live in the truth about who we truly are and be willing to be drawn into a loving relationship with the God who loves perfectly – who does not disappoint. In God’s love, we see the reflection of our true selves and it is this truth that “sets us free” from reaching for the wrong things in life. To accept God’s gifts, we must be willing to be changed from living the lies, however small, to living freely and courageously in the truth. We must replace our appetites for so many things that have no lasting value with the honest hunger for the perfect love of God that only He can satisfy.

    When you feel scared and alone, pray to God. Ask Him to send you a perfect gift for your situation. Then focus your energies on preparing yourself to accept the gift and His love, with an open, thankful and humble heart. Do not try to second guess the solution to your problem – let God solve it. You will know when His gift arrives because you will be amazed and humbled by how perfectly it fits you. Trust in God…He does not disappoint a sincere and humble heart.

    Bob

  9. Wendy Staas Says:

    Dan, once again you have allowed the Heavenly Lord to speak through you and into our hearts! Thank you. Saturday I woke up in such a panic after reading that there could be a bail-out for the financial crisis. My husband and I are barely making it now and if there is a bail-out the taxes could ruin us. This story helps put everything back into perspective. I know that no matter what happens, no matter how the end of the Book of Life ends…we all know one thing for certain. The devil may have his rein her on earth, but in the book of Revelation it is clearly written that OUR HEAVENLY FATHER, SAVIOR LORD JESUS AND THE HOLY SPIRIT WIN IN THE END!!! Thank you Dan.

  10. Stephen Place Says:

    Hey Dan,
    I just got fired! Praise God! I sold print and internet advertising for 2-1/2+ years. YUCK! I prayed a prayer “whatever it takes, Lord, help me.” 3 hours later the answer came. That’s a 5 ton elephant off my back.
    Now, nothing is standing in my way anymore, it is time to move foward.
    Opportunity is knocking, and I pray I will be able to recognize it!
    SCP

  11. R Park Says:

    Excellent story Dan. I can understand how we see a life changing event of losing a job and it turns into a blessing in disguise.

  12. OneEyedOneHornFlyingPurplePizzaEater Says:

    Dan,

    I love this parable. I joined the Army National Guard 2/22/2001. Roughly three weeks after I completed my training for the Army, I was diagnosed with cancer. I was only 19 and at times dealt with a lot of anger towards God. I have been called up to be deployed 4 times and each time, the doctors found me to be nondeployable due having had cancer. As morbid as it sounds the cancer probably saved my life and I have a beautiful wife and son, that I might have missed on those opportunities if I had been deployed. Either way, I will choose God’s plans over man’s plans any day of the week.

  13. Debbie Says:

    Dan,
    I hope you don’t mind, but I reprinted your story in our blog because discovering 48 Days was a result of a personal disaster we suffered many years ago. Our family has been through alot, but God has always made good of it, and we all need to be reminded of that REGULARLY!

    I’ve read (almost) every newsletter you’ve emailed out, for almost as long as you’ve been sending them! I even model our current newsletter after yours….hope that’s ok. They say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

    We’re still struggling, (but improving!) but with a disabled husband AND son at home to care for, I have no choice but to work at home. You have been an inspiration and encouragement for the early years and hopefully for many more to come!

    Thank you! May God return the blessings 100-fold!

  14. T L Raine Says:

    I know that this is almost a week after this article but I read these at work where sometimes it is quieter than at home. I still work outside the home for someone else but by and large I do like my job. I have had two other businesses that I was the boss but had to come back to this world because of my husbands health. I am blessed because that I can provide the insurance for us. I am not going to say that we have a lot of money but we are happy. I do want to continue to search for that place where I can go back to being my own boss but in the meantime I am in this job because God has blessed me with it and it is my ministry to be there

  15. Ray Barkman Says:

    Thanks for all you do, in your books (I’m reading No More Mondays) as well as the content of your web material! It’s all the kind of encouragement I and others need all too often! Thanks Dan for being a lifeline to many.

  16. Angela M Says:

    Dan,
    This is a great message. I am at crossroads. I moved to the United States to pursue my Masters degree and recently found out that the company where i worked back home retrenched staff and i no longer have a job. I’m from a country with 70% unemployment rate and my attempts to get a job back home have been fruitless. I was wondering whether this is a blessing or a curse…been very stressed, but i have now learnt that God’s plans are different from our own. We have to wait on God and stop stressing. Thanks Dan

  17. SteveB Says:

    Dan,

    Thanks for a GREAT story! I have a feeling we are all going to be needing this story for a while. I’ll be adding a link to this blog from our radio station’s web page!

    SteveB

  18. heymark Says:

    I enjoy your posts… they are helpful, inspiring and I appreciate all the work you do.

    One thing we do in our small business is teach continuing education courses. They are popular and well-received in our area. We’d like to begin offering them online. We have to meet certain criteria such as keeping records of students, giving exams and keeping the exam results in our records, we have to send student certificates, and capture average times student takes to complete the course, etc. Is there a computer program out there that will do all of this? We don’t know where to begin.

  19. allison Says:

    WOW! God answers prayer, I was just emailing the 700 club about why I don’t have children, why I’ve lost everything and generally mad about everything. Right after, I read your article about the old man with the white horse. Wow it totally changed my persceptive. Instead of thinking God is against me or hates me, I turned it around. So basically instead of asking God if I was cursed, through your article God has shown me I am not cursed; just not looking at things from His persceptive. Thanks so much, i am no longer wallowing in the mud of self pity. God Bless.

  20. sandy wallace Says:

    Dear Sir:

    I read your poem that I think originated with Max Lucado. I would like to make sure of that. Can you tell me where you found the poem as I would like to use it in my publication but do not want to plagarize it. I want the credit to be correct.

    thank you

  21. Dan Miller Says:

    I’ll actually be seeing Max Lucado tomorrow morning. But I’m confident it was not him that told this story. I’ll ask him but I’ve researched it before and have not been able to nail down an author.

  22. Tim Ramsay Says:

    “Two men look out the same prison bars; one sees mud and the other stars.”

    Frederick Langbridge

    There are two wolves within me; a good one and a bad one.
    When they fight, the one I feed is the one who wins.

    I don’t know the author of that one but I know the author of this one.

    There are two people with in me; Will, which is influenced by my environment, i.e. expectations of others, family, friends and culture. The other person is Truth; the Truth within my Soul, and it’s hard to hear the voice of Truth because Will is so loud. But Truth knows what’s real, and waits for Will to listen.

    When my Will desires Truth and follows, together we find inner peace and true joy.

    Tim

  23. Valentine Gift Ideas Says:

    Nice subject area that you have chosen.

  24. Chino Says:

    Hi
    This is first time I visit your site.
    You have a great post.
    Thank you.

  25. Bartle Says:

    cool picsxxx

  26. Cindy Dunston Quirk Says:

    Great post Dan! Good to remember to focus on possibilities and be open to what can happen.

  27. Did You Lose Your Horse? | My Blog Says:

    [...] frequent Dan Miller’s blog called 48Days. This was a great story that he posted today… Like most of you, I have been hearing a lot of [...]

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