“Horses will always symbolize my spiritual journey—learning to trust God, facing my fears, and becoming wiser through my failures and struggles.”
- Philip K. Hardin
Written by Philip K. Hardin
“Why do you sign all your correspondence with “Ride ON?”
That’s the question I am often asked. So, here’s the story …
I grew up watching cowboy movies on Saturday morning. I would be in my pajamas with my six-gun strapped to my side with a cowboy hat on my head. I begged my Dad for a horse until I found sports and girls. I wanted to be a cowboy!
When I was in college, a teaching mentor of mine, Dr. Howard Hendricks, said,
“If you think you look silly sitting on a white horse, you will never lead a cavalry charge.”
By this time, I had surrendered my life to Christ. I was growing in the Lord and even discipling other men. I wanted to be the best Christian man and leader I could be. All my life, I have always been a leader, i.e. class president, captain of the basketball team, etc. But, as quickly as I would rise to the position of leader in whatever the context, I would begin experiencing severe anxiety and fear. The quote by Dr. Hendricks haunted me for years. I knew I was drawn to the horse, but as soon as I got on the horse, I panicked. This quote was kind of the story of my life during my early adult years.
Years later, I attended a John Eldredge “Boot Camp Men’s Retreat.” During one of the sessions, Eldredge was teaching from Revelation 2:17. The passage speaks of how God has a new name, an affectionate name, for each believer that He will give to us written on a white stone when he arrives in heaven. When my daughters were born, I immediately referred to them by the affectionate names that came to me. Audrey became “Snooka-Pooka.” Abigail became “Abba-Dabba-Do.” I understood affectionate names and resonated with God having one for me. Eldredge dismissed all the men to a quiet place and invited us to ask God to reveal his new name and to listen. Eldredge directed us, “He might even reveal your new name now.” I found a quiet place and began journaling and listening. I made my list but heard nothing. I came back to the auditorium with 500 men, feeling a little weird and awkward at my list.
As I found my seat and joined my guys, music began to usher us into the next session. A song I had never heard began playing. It was a song by Andy Park, “We Will Ride” … I listened.
He has fire in His eyes and a sword in His hand
And He's riding a white horse across this land
And He's calling out to you and me
"Will you ride with me?"
We say, "yes, yes Lord, we will ride with You"
We say, "yes Lord, we will ride with You
We will stand up and fight
We will ride with the armies of heaven
We'll be dressed in white, we'll be dressed in white"
We say, "yes, yes Lord, we will ride"
I was overcome with emotion. I was crying—heaving. I heard God speak to my heart,
“You are my White Horse!”
On my list of numerous names written in my journal I had written at the top of the list “White Horse.” WOW! I believe that God spoke to me at that time and the affectionate name He has for me, written on a white stone is “White Horse.”
I have always wanted a horse. Ironically, even the name my mother gave me at birth, Philip, means “Lover of Horses.” And yet, I have always been very afraid of horses. But now I ride every chance I get, as it is a tangible way for me to move toward growth. Horses have always been a symbol of both my strength and fears. Whereas, I used to be afraid of leadership — “sitting on the horse” —now I have learned to trust God, face my fears, and be willing to serve where I can. Horses will always symbolize my spiritual journey—learning to trust God, facing my fears, and becoming wiser through my failures and struggles. I have learned to “Ride ON!”
As we begin a New Year, I ask you: Will You Ride? Will you ride with the One who loves you and has a plan for your life in 2019?