Bucking Heaven

Bucking Heaven

At this point, you might be wondering about my preoccupation with Terry. By telling you these stories, I’m showing you a steep incline of growth in my spiritual journey. After thirty some years of following Jesus, I was just starting to learn about the Holy Spirit. Terry’s illness and death became a marker, a turn in the road, a point of departure.

Old Arch Gate opening to endless country road leading nowhere. Hopelessness and great unknown concept.

Flipping through my old journals, I noticed an impression dated September 30, 1998: “Terry is the timeline.”

Jenny’s prophetic word regarding the prayer meeting for Terry included this phrase:

“The time is not yet ripe.”

What are you saying, God?

When Terry died, some believed we weren’t ready for the ramifications of a major healing. God wasn’t saying no, but perhaps “not yet.” He saw we needed more time and growth to handle the weight of glory.

C.S. Lewis’ classic work, The Great Divorce, illustrates this thought: In a perpetually gray city, representing something akin to Purgatory, the main character decides to take an excursion on a bright bus and arrives at the foothills of heaven. He and his fellow travellers appear as ghosts in the glorious light. wonderful waterfall with colorful tree in thailandAnd while the country is beautiful beyond imagination, the visitors are in no condition to enjoy it. Every blade of grass feels like a sharp knife, the rain like bullets, the waterfall like thunder.

They are not ready for the reality before them.

Solid-looking men and women come to meet the ghosts. They promise them if they enter Heaven properly and travel forward, they too will become solid. As they gain substance, they would experience heaven as wonderful instead of painful.

Back in the 1990s, we were spiritually hungry, but like the ghosts, we weren’t prepared. We didn’t know what we didn’t know. We longed to see miracles, signs, and wonders. God set our feet on a path for growth, yet we had a long way to go. We still do. We want to be solid shining men and women, ready for the supernatural power of heaven to manifest on earth.

Then, the Holy Spirit gave me another clue about the process…Terry happened to die on Groundhog Day. Tradition holds that if a groundhog sees his shadow on February 2nd, halfway between winter and spring, one could expect another round of winter weather. Though a silly superstition, Groundhog Day could symbolize pausing to discern the times and the seasons.

Groundhog_Day_(movie_poster)Let me elaborate. Some additional insights came to me after watching the iconic movie, Groundhog Day (1993), a comedy starring Bill Murray. Murray plays Phil Connors, a brash TV weatherman. While covering the annual Groundhog Day celebration in Punxsutawney Pennsylvania, Phil enters a time loop, repeating the same day over and over. Only he is aware of his stuckness. He humors himself with excessive indulgences and reckless choices, because nothing seems to matter. Each morning the same day starts anew. He manipulates circumstances to win the love of a beautiful woman, but fails because she sees through it. He grows weary of living the same day and tries to end his life numerous times. Finally, he decides to become a better man. This genuine change breaks the spell, and life moves forward again.

Though the movie is humorous, it’s also serious. Arrogance and selfish ambition can keep one in a narcissistic loop of perpetual “winter.” Like Phil, we can try to make life “work” to our advantage, but Roundabout traffic signGod may keep us in a loop until we learn some things. Sometimes we don’t move forward in life until we grow in character.

A few weeks ago while praying, I saw a clear picture of Jesus sitting on a horse. He was kind and patient, but very firm in his manner. Though bridled, the horse was also in a tiedown or a “head check.” The confinement agitated the spirited animal. It clearly wanted to run free like a wild mustang. Not being a horse person, I had to search for the meaning of this image.

A tiedown, also called a martingale, is usually “a single strap attached to the girth (that) passes between the horse’s front legs and is fixed to the back of the noseband.” The purpose of a tiedown is to keep a horse from tossing its head or jerking the reins out of the rider’s hands. It prepares a horse for abrupt stops and turns. Though much chatter on horse forums points to the improper use and dangers, a tiedown can be an effective training device if used appropriately.

Statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi - Verona ItalyHow interesting.

Does God keep us in a loop because we need a “head check?” Are we in a tiedown because we toss our heads and want to pull the reins from His hands? Do we resist His training? Will we learn to move in sync with our rider, ready for abrupt stops and turns? Is He harsh—or rather—far wiser than we can imagine?

Character, integrity, honor, unity, humility, repentance and forgiveness are Kingdom values that prepare us for the weight of glory. They take training, discipline, self-control, and time to learn. Is there part of you that still “bucks” the Lord?

“Is the axe to boast itself over the one who chops with it?”

–Isaiah 10:15a (NASB)


  1. Julie Oltean :

    Psalm 32:9 came to mind, Susan.
    Do not be like the horse or the mule,
    which have no understanding
    but must be controlled by bit and bridle
    or they will not come to you.

  2. Pete Mehegan :

    When I see through Jesus ‘ eyes I gain wisdom, discernment, understanding. It is a good start. When finally I let Jesus see through my eyes he does what he would always do; goes where he would only go. It is no longer I who lives. That is when we stop acting like mere humans.

    • As John Paul Jackson said, our spirit has to grow larger than our soul for us to see more of God. Thanks for your comment, Pete!

  3. David Yearous :

    Susan, love your thoughts on why we can’t move God to do what we want Him too do when we want Him to do it.

  4. i see that with horses, love and language and harmony is created and then blossoms through communicating through effective training and “tools”. but like you said, only when used properly. i count on god being far wiser than i can imagine. if little puny me can grasp the outcome and beauty of bonding with a horse, i want to REMEMBER that that is all god has ever wanted with me. i want to stop trying to take the lead. when will i ever learn?

    • Suzee, you would TOTALLY get the horse thing! It is a beautiful when horse and rider are fully synchronized!