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Smokey is tall at 17 hands (68 inches), lean and muscular, and as wild as the day is long. For several years my friend’s horse has bullied other horses, cattle, and people with his willful attitude. I’ve come to understand just how much my life had in common with Smokey. I watched him on cool mornings shaking his head, stomping his feet, and taking off in a full run. Often, I mused he was feeling his oats, enjoying his unrestrained life. In my heart, I knew he was expressing his dislike of being restricted by the pasture’s fence. 

Realizing that while Smokey is beautiful, strong, and fast, he is also wild and undisciplined. As such, worthless to his owner. He can’t be ridden and adds nothing more than perhaps some aesthetic value. Essentially, he exists but has no real value in, or makes no real contribution to, the world. I considered how I was before finding God. I too was headstrong, prideful, fiercely independent, and of little or no value to anyone else or myself. Sad to say there are still some of those traits in me today. But I am a work in progress and learning to surrender myself to God more with each passing year.

Christians must surrender themselves to God before they can become truly useful to Him. By surrender, I mean each of us must die to ourselves, our flesh. We must take on the characteristics of being a Christian that Jesus Christ exhibited. The term used in the horse world is called “breaking” a horse. The horse has to relinquish control of his own will and submit to the trainer. We humans must also learn to submit to the will of our Father. 

A great horse trainer I’ve known for years is my brother-in-law Mark. Mark once told me, “Training a horse, donkey, or any member of the equine family is less about imposing your will on the animal and more about reaching an understanding so the animal will delight in serving its master.” I took what he said to mean as being broken isn’t a physical state, it’s a mental state based on trust. I don’t give up; I give in, trusting I will get more in return when I am doing my master’s will. 

Realizing God hasn’t made me His slave; His love, grace, and mercy helped me reach a point in my Christian walk where I submit to His will and dominion over my life. I surrender my will to God so I may become more useful in His kingdom. To accomplish this, I must die to self and live for Christ. The apostle Paul stated this idea clearly in .

So the question becomes; “How can I die to myself?” The best answer I have is by studying God’s Word, understanding how Jesus lived His life on earth. By understanding His perfect example, I can — with His help — learn to be loving, joyful, peaceful, long-suffering, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and exhibit self-control ( ). The fruits of the Spirit are character traits that demonstrate Christ’s character in us. We gain these as we grow in Christ and mature our faith. 

Today, my friend Smokey and I have a truce. I feed him carrots and he doesn’t step on my feet. I can get a bridle and saddle on him, but he’s not yet broke enough for me to ride him.

The most amazing discovery I’ve made since surrendering myself to God is how He, in return, gives me more than I could have ever dreamed. In Christ, I have freedom from a life of self-obsession and worry. I am free to live in the joy of Christ. As I become more submissive and faithful to Him, I become more accepting, generous, and loving to others. I am so grateful to consider myself to be God-broke and useful to His kingdom.

Copyright © 2017 J.D. Wininger, used with permission.

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About The Author


J.D. Wininger is an award-winning business writer and speaker who has authored hundreds of books and manuals, and thousands of contract-winning proposals by applying his God-given talents for writing and communicating throughout his career. He has written for national magazines,, Refresh Bible Study magazine, and contributed to several books. Since retiring in 2011 to become a gentleman farmer and rancher in northeast Texas, J.D. applies his spiritual gifts and talents to teach compelling lessons in faith, heartfelt devotionals, and author nonfiction works in pursuit of increasing

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