Devotional

Let Me Tell You a Story – Horsehair

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We were having lunch in the conference room when my boss asked us if we had ever gotten popped while in elementary school. I know I know – astrange subject, but we are a strange group of fella’s – engineers you know!

Anyway, a couple of the guys responded and I mentioned the dreaded horsehair incident and my shaking fear of being called to the principles office.

It all started in grade 4, when my best friend (Randy) and I were out during lunch break, tossing a few stones into the farmers field and running around. When I tell you this, you should be amazed that Randy and I thought we could get away with an utter disregard for rules, that we would presume that the teachers would not see our flagrant rebellion in tossing a bit of gravel into the fields next door.

But for some reason they didn’t see us act out our rebellion, for if they had we would’ve been dragged down to the principals office and given a good “pop”. In our school, according to Randy, our principal would, on first offence strap the open palm in order to get his point across.

Now, please understand, I had never been to the principals office like my friend Randy had, so as we ran around that day, he mentioned his trips to the office. The one thing he warned me of, (after we tossed the stones!) was that if the principal ever called me to his office, to hope and pray he doesn’t bring out “the horsehair”. Randy explained that Principal Rainey would lay a single horsehair across the palm just prior to the strapping. Upon striking the palm, this horsehair would slice open the skin, and the blood would flow.

Remember now, Randy and I were 9 yrs old at the time and I was what many might call a goody two shoes. Randy was a new friend, and a rebel. The rumor was that he knew the principal on a first name basis.

So I beleived him about the horsehair and started considering the wisdom of my rebellion, of my stone throwing act of defiance. But no one saw me, and I went back in to the class room after lunch break with mixed feelings. Thankful I didn’t get caught, but I sure had conscious that kept nagging at me.

Doesn’t the proverbs tell us….

The wicked flee when no one pursues,
    but the righteous are bold as a lion.

I’ll tell you for the next few days, my flagrant rejection of the rules haunted me. Fear started welling up in my heart, and eventually, I became a ball of nerves. Until the dreaded day came, when only two students were called to the principals office. You guessed it. One of those students was the rebel who is writing this story. But the other one wasn’t Randy.

It was Susan.

Nevertheless, this wrinkle in the story didn’t relive me of my fear. I remember looking down at my palms as we were escorted to the office. Of course Susan went in first, with the principal closing the door. Why would he spank her? What did she do? She was an almost perfect student, always getting great marks and was super polite. Well it turns out she was in their for about 10 minutes, and then came out and went back to class. I tried to sneak a peak at her hands, but I didn’t see any blood dripping from them. Of course I hadn’t heard the expected wailing either, so I was even more confused.

Principal Rainey called me in and I looked at my virgin palms one last time.

Now, as I tell you this story, I want you to enter into my experience of the fear I felt. A little boy, expecting blood to be splattered on the walls due to a strange method of strapping. I might lose the ability to write, and the pain – oh the pain!

All of this fear was based on two “facts”

  • Fact 1 – I had broke the school yard policy
  • Fact 2 – Randy knew what he was talking about

Fear, as it turns out is based on the knowledge we have, and not necessarily on facts. My tossing stones created a self perception as a rebel. My belief in Randy’s experience drove the fear of someone finding out into hyperdrive.

Technically, I deserved some discipline. Looking back, I suppose I needed a stern talking to. But for some reason I jumped over logic, and headed to the worst situation, that is of having blood spurting out of my palm, dripping on the floor and writhing in pain.

How ridiculous!

The principal had called me to his office for the same reason he had called Susan to the office. No discipline. Simply an effort to help us with a speech impediment we both suffered from at the time.

Friend. that fear I lived through was self inflicted due to two “facts”. One fact, that of my stone throwing was true. The other fact, that of the dreaded horsehair, was a story, a gag, a joke, a lie (?) that I believed as true and suffered under the fear of it.

There was no “horsehair” discipline in the school, and I never did get a “pop” in any of my schooling years. But I did learn that believing a lie is very detrimental to your mental health. Those few words out of Randy’s mouth consumed my thinking for days.

What do you believe about God? How do you “see Him”? Does He have a horsehair hidden somewhere, just waiting to wail on your palm?

My fear of Principal Rainey, had turned from the proper respect to be given to an adult and authority in the school, to a life crippling fear and terror.

Consider Jesus of Nazareth. The truth. Worthy of belief. How does the expression of God through His Son, in His sacrificial death for sinners fit into this story? Where does fear fit in? What type of fear do you live in? Fear based on your assumptions, stories others have told you, rumors or out and out lies? Do you have a debilitating fear of the Most High? A fear that paralyzes you, that keeps you from asking of His will, of trying to find out what He is like?

My friends, although He is the Most High God, the Almighty, the All knowing and ever present One, He came to the earth in humility, to die a hideous death in order to display His great love for us.

Do not fear. Fear not, as the Bible constantly tells us. Seek Him, for He is rich in mercy and full of grace towards those who seek Him.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

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3 thoughts on “Let Me Tell You a Story – Horsehair

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