Two horses were born in the woods. Their Father was a great animal, the lead horse of the pack, but while they were still young, He went away. Most said He was dead. Three days later He returned to the surprise of some and anger of others. After His return many great things were done by Him and in His name. The young horses were given names when He last set eyes on them. The older He called Kantor and the younger Gamora, then the Father left again, never to be seen, though His touch was all over the forest.
Kantor was always in a hurry. So much so that he could not be slowed down by his name. He became known as Kant. His brother wanted a nickname, too as they were so alike in every way. He went by Gam, as if to say the whole name was a sinful waste of time. Both horses were pure white from head to hoof; not that you could tell. They were normally covered in sticks and brambles with mud splashed high on their backsides. Down in the dirt and mud was their favorite place in all the forest. Kant and Gam were inseparable. They did everything together. They ate together, they played together, they worked together, they sowed wild oats together, and they ran all over the forest. Their father had given them permission to do whatever they wanted, absolute free will. There was nothing they could not do and nowhere they could not go.
Except for the road. The middle of the forest held a road that ran from north to south; a narrow, path with slippery slopes leading up to it and away. The road was the King’s Road, it led to the Castle on the Hill. It wasn't that they were not allowed on the road, they went across it many times, and even travelled up and down it a time or two but quickly gave up traveling on it because the road seemed boring and hard to stay on. They didn't want to be on the narrow little path that leads to the great beyond. Until one day, Kant and Gam were grazing by the road when they heard a ruckus. They looked up to see the biggest carriage they had ever imagined heading down the road towards them. It was huge, with coachmen, footmen, and cavalrymen racing along in front of and behind it. But that was not what commanded their attention. It was the six white horses that pulled the carriage.
Neither of them had ever seen something so regal and majestic. The bridles on their heads were jewel encrusted. Between their ears were set white plumes of shimmering feathers. The reins had jewels and were dyed white to match their manes. Even their hooves sparkled as they tread across the road carrying the King from place to place. Both horses watched with mouths agape as the stately animals went past. As the carriage went around the bend and out of sight, Kant and Gam looked at each other and had the same simultaneous thought, "I want to be one of those horses."
After checking around, they learned that in order to be one of there were criteria to meet. First and foremost, they had to be pure white, with no blemishes on their coat. That was easy. They had great genes. While their mother was dappled and gray, their father had been solid white. He had passed the trait on to them and made them white as snow. Also, the horses had to be disciplined. They had to train, eat right, sleep right, and just generally act right. This was where Kant lost it. He couldn't bring himself to do the right things. Gam on the other hand wanted it bad. He saw a better life as a horse of the crown and worked as hard as he could until the day he could take the test.
Kant picked on Gam. While Gam stayed clean and straight Kant kept up with his old ways. Kant would show up where Gam was training and show him how free he was. He neighed and laughed at Gam to demonstrate the freedom Gam was losing.
Finally the day came for Gam to take the test. He did not really know what to do in order to pass, but he had faith that he would be able to. He had faith in the King. Kant showed up for support, with his coat full of mud and thorns. Nothing Gam had studied or tried to learn helped him to pass the test. Walking the aisle between those animals that had made it, or at least were in attendance, he trotted down to the front. Even as he passed with flying colors, Gam was unsure of how. It had been through Grace. As a part of his matriculation, Gam was treated to a walk through the narrow gate of the castle wall known only as the eye of the needle. He had to bend down but on the other side was a sign that read “You Have Won Heaven.” At the end of the ceremony he received a new name, Abel. As Abel, he only had to work one day a week, the other six he was free to do what he wanted.
He still got to run in the forest, and even hang out with Kant, though the two rarely did. Kant was uncomfortable around Gam feeling at times that Gam’s clean living and disciplined lifestyle was a drag on his freedom and spur of the moment way of life. To Kant, the old ways were dead. Abel was just as tempted to get in the mud and bushes, yet he did his best not to. From time to time he slipped and got dirty. Sometimes it was by accident, others he knew he was wrong. The stable hands of the castle did not complain about cleaning him, they just did without a word or a condescending attitude. The few times Kant would hang out he picked on Abel mercilessly about what Abel could or could not do.
For the rest of their lives, Kant lived the life of freedom and bragged about his ability to go wherever he wanted. For his part, Abel lived his life walking along with Kant, going everywhere he went, and then the places Kant could not
The story begins with two horses not because there is something particularly important about two of anything, except that it allows a direct comparison between two objects that take diverging paths. As brothers it shows the closeness and a bond between the two that is inherent in all they do. This is not just two horses taken at random, one tall, one short, one fat, one skinny, one from a rich family, one from a poor family. This is a story of two horses that have the same background, come from the same flock, the same group, the same mother and the same Father. Said Father is not just any father, but The Father. He is the head of the pack, which “goes away” for a few days but returns. When He returns He does some important work before going away again. Admittedly, my symbolism is weak here. The Father is symbolic of Jesus. It isn’t readily apparent that when he left he died, and the biggest clue is the capitalization of the pronouns. There are a few more hints, such as His touch being all over the forest and later on the fact that He had passed along to both horses their perfectly white, unblemished bodies as well as their absolute free will. I chose Cantor simply for the ability to abbreviate it Can’t. Gamora on the other hand was more symbolic of the second twin city from Lot’s age. When you see the things the horses do, including sowing their wild oats, it is again referring to the sexual freedom practiced in those later devastated cities.
The road is the short and narrow way. It isn’t off limits, but when you are a horse of the forest enjoying your absolute freewill, nothing that restricts you comes across as very fun. The road is just that, it requires discipline, and perseverance to stay on the road. Horses of the world do not want to conform to someone else’s rules; they want only what their hearts desire. In typical humanistic fashion they have grown to rationalize whatever they want to do. But then they see the carriage. It carries the king, and is pulled and surrounded by those horses that not only chose the narrow path, but can stay on the narrow path. Christians along the path appear to have it all together. Outsiders viewing Christians in their element sometimes with a “yeah, but they already have it all” attitude as a defense as to why they can’t just become like them. This is again a very humanistic attempt at self-justification. Proving to no one but themselves why they are right. When a Christian has it all together, is doing the right thing, and is being rewarded for it, the world is envious.
The horses learn that the first requirement they must meet is one that they have no control over, and that their Father has already taken care of for them. They cannot make themselves blemish free or white from the top of their head to the bottom of their hooves. To further accentuate it, their mother is shown as other than, which is unfortunate but it served the story well. After that it becomes a matter of what the horse does. The issue is by grace alone (the gift from the Father), through faith alone, and is not because of what we do. Now, the paradoxical side of the matter is that once we realize we have been saved by grace; our faith begins to enable and require us to do works. The works don’t get us there, but we have to do the works because it is of the nature of salvation to do them. Lots of times it seems that we have to have been saved, taken the grace given, start to do the works, and then somewhere down the road get the benefits of the effort. Again, this is a bit misleading, because our “effort” had nothing to do with it, but that is what we justify to ourselves in our humanistic manner.
As a reward for being told “You have won heaven”, a point I neglected to add but will in a later re-write. This of course being abbreviated YHWH and alluding back to where Gam got his new nickname, Abel, the Old Testament. This name served several purposes; one was to again cement the bonds of brotherly attachment as seen by Cain and Abel. Another was to demonstrate that Abel was now dead to Cant, another point not very clear in the story. The ultimate reason ended up also tying to the nickname given to Cant because one horse clearly can’t, while the other is very able.
Abel’s work schedule shows that he needs merely to give one day to the King for service to get the rest off. But his discipline won’t allow him to return to his old ways of sinning and getting dirty. Sometimes he slips into the mucky mire of sin, and when he does the care he gets in re-cleansing is guilt-free and non-judgmental. The ending balance of the story shows that while they both believed the lie of being free and able to do anything at the beginning of the story, only the one who took the steps to fall in line with where the Father wants us to be is able to truly take advantage of the truth and full measure of grace. Paradoxically, by giving up what is perceived to be freedom, Abel was able to gain not only more than it cost him, but what he never could have imagined before.