The horse that wouldn't go to church

Samuel had changed. All of his co-workers had noticed. As a foreman at the local flour mill, it was his duty to inspect the transactions and conduct of those under him. The old Samuel had not paid much attention to inaccuracies, lateness, or cheating among his subordinates. These things were common in his culture and foremen often turned a blind eye to such behaviour. 

But the new Samuel was different. His recent religious journey had transformed his whole life. Once a member of the dominant religion of his country, he had recently become a Christian, joining a protestant denomination. Then he was introduced to the Seventh-day Adventist message by a local pastor. He eagerly embraced each new truth. As his commitment to Christ and His truth grew, his habits at work changed. He now did his work to please God, not man. Instead of passing over corruption and embezzlement, as is common in his culture, Samuel refused to approve anything that was not just and upright. His convictions brought him into conflict with his coworkers, who soon realized their lucrative habits were at an end unless they could get rid of Samuel. 

“What can we do?” They inquired of each other. “How can we be rid of him?” They soon contrived a plot whereby they could be rid of him and his family, forever. Like the enemies of the biblical Daniel, they decided to use his faithfulness against him. 

Samuel was punctual, a trait uncommon in his culture. He was always the first one at church, in spite of poor roads and difficult traveling conditions. Each Sabbath morning a man with a horse and cart would come to collect Samuel, his wife, and their five children and take them over the same road, across the same bridge, to church. Because of Samuel's insistence on punctuality, the cart driver came on time as well. 

But the cart driver was late on the morning that our story takes place. Samuel and his family had prayed as usual that God would protect them throughout the day. As usual, they prepared for church and then waited for the driver. When he finally arrived, Samuel and his family quickly arranged themselves in the cart and started off. Or at least they attempted to start. As soon as the driver signalled his horse to begin, the horse began to balk. He snorted and bucked, fighting every effort to make him move. At last he moved forward reluctantly, but only for a short distance. Again he fought, kicked, snorted, and refused to move forward. Again and again the driver urged his stubborn horse to move forward, only to gain a few feet of progress. 

“What is wrong with your horse today?” Samuel asked the driver in frustration, "He's never done this before.”

“I don't know.” the driver replied. “He didn't want to leave home today. He fought me all he way here.”

The sun climbed in the heavens as Samuel and his family fought their way over the familiar road toward church. They had nearly reached the bridge when Samuel decided he had had enough.  Already church service was well underway. He did not want to arrive late. “Please take us home.” he asked the driver. Tired of fighting the stubborn animal, the driver gladly turned back. No sooner had the cart turned around than the horse took off running and didn't stop until he reached Samuel's home. “What was wrong with the horse? Why had God allowed his family to miss church?” Samuel must have wondered. But he did not have long to wait for his answers.

Sunday morning Samuel began work at the flour mill as usual. (He had received special permission to work on Sundays since he did not work on Sabbath.) He had not been working long when a group of his co-workers rushed up to him, falling on their knees before him. They begged for forgiveness. “We were angry at you for your strict honesty and wanted to kill you and your whole family. We knew you always go to church by the same road, so we waiting under the bridge to kill you. We saw how the horse refused to go forward and then raced home when you turned around. It was a miracle! Your God is the true God!” They exclaimed. 

This experience greatly strengthened Samuel's faith and the faith of his whole family for generations. For the rest of his life Samuel served the Lord with faith and power. He is now asleep in Jesus, but the memory of God's deliverance that day lives on in the heart of his daughter, who told it to her son, who told it to me. His faith and missionary zeal can still be seen in the lives of his children and grandchildren. We, too, can gain strength as we remember that the same God who preserved Samuel and his family, still watches over those who choose to be true to Him, at any cost. 

Rebecca Cameron Nowdesha is a Bible worker and medical missionary who has devoted her life to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ's soon coming around the world.