Straight Ahead- Look, See, Pray

We’re in for a heatwave… possibly temperatures as hot as this day in Florence. Crowds thronged the squares, admiring the fabulous historic architecture and keeping the cafes and ice-cream sellers happy.

Tourist carriages offer a nice way to “see the sights” and save your feet. For the horse, it’s a different story. Hot roads, bright sun, noisy humans, and hard work. Their owners/drivers make a good living from tourists happy to pay premium prices.

Many of the horses wear blinkers. These keep the horse looking straight ahead, and less likely to be scared or distracted by the hubbub of people and traffic. Working horses have a job to do.

Idealists would like to see horses happily munching fresh grass in beautiful fields, a romantic view that ignores the reality that many horses only exist to work. Perhaps the best we can wish for is kind owners who are responsible and give their animal the best possible care. These Florentine ponies seemed content and well cared for, as far as a non-expert could tell.

Reality… real life… duty… work…

Not the most popular of words in these self-indulgent and affluent days. People dream of winning the Lottery, of getting the breaks, even being famous. Most of us have to live in the real world and work for our living (hoping to find fulfilment and purpose in what we do).

As Christians it is tempting to ask God to provide miracles and special provision for our comfort and benefit. This rather avoids the New Testament concept of being “servants” who walk the way of the Cross. Miracles and short-cuts are the exception, not the rule! In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus speaks of a reality we might wish to avoid… perhaps we need “blinkers” to keep our eyes fixed on the journey straight ahead…

Luke 17:7-10 The Message

“Suppose one of you has a servant who comes in from ploughing the field or tending the sheep. Would you take his coat, set the table, and say, ‘Sit down and eat’? Wouldn’t you be more likely to say, ‘Prepare dinner; change your clothes and wait table for me until I’ve finished my coffee; then go to the kitchen and have your supper’? Does the servant get special thanks for doing what’s expected of him? It’s the same with you. When you’ve done everything expected of you, be matter-of-fact and say, ‘The work is done. What we were told to do, we did.’”

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