I've owned horses since the day I was born. My family owned them, and even after high school, when my Dad sold almost all of them, I kept one, and I still have him to this day. He's getting older, and I really can't imagine a day when he's not around, but God willing, I will get to enjoy him for a few more years.
Since having children, I really don't have time to ride him anymore, and since he's getting up in years, when I do he tends to get a little stiff and sore. Our other horse isn't broke to ride, and over the last few years, I haven't had time to work with him either, so between the two of them, the only 'purpose' they serve is to keep the grass eaten down on our farm.
I've been asked numerous times over the years, "So, do you ever ride those horses?" to which I give the schpiel which I just gave you above. However, I also tell people, "You know, I really just enjoy looking at them." The response to this statement is usually kind of a strange look and a little chuckle, and we leave it at that.
But it's true. I do 'just' enjoy looking at them. It does something -- something very good -- for my soul.
And in that moment -- the moment where I receive a strange look and a chuckle -- I kind of want to ask that person, "Do you have that in your life? Do you have something that does good for your soul?"
I don't know if I can adequately explain what it is about the horses that does me so much good, but when I look at them, I think about strength, I think about things more powerful than I am. I think about beauty. I think about endurance. I think about the truth and simplicity in their nature. I marvel at their grace. I take pleasure in seeing them at rest, and am exhilerated when they seemingly take flight across the landscape. I appreciate their place in Creation.
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Philippians 4:8
In my opinion, God created horses to be 'lovely' and 'excellent' creatures, and I dare to say He would agree, as horses are frequently noted in Scripture, in various ways, sometimes as beasts of war and burden, sometimes as examples of strength, and in Revelation, as very graphic images of the coming of our Lord and the end times.
On the other hand, whereas the horses cause me to meditate on God's good things, I also keep in mind that they are His creation, not something to be worshipped themselves. They are worthy of appreciation, yet my hope does not rest in them.
"A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength, it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love..." Psalm 33:17-18
My point in all of this is not to say that we should all spend time gazing upon horses, but to illustrate how God gives us many things, in His creation, that should cause us to stop and meditate upon Him, upon His creation, and upon His nature. He did not create the many wonders of our earth so that we might go on about our lives and ignore their majesty; rather He made such things so that we might see a glimpse of what is pleasing and lovely to Him. As if this wasn't amazing enough, the even greater thing about all of this is that God wishes for us to see the beauty of His creation, not only as a display of His power, but because He loves us.
Because He loves us, He allows us to draw closer into His presence through the beauty around us. Because He loves us, the Lord and Creator of the universe (think about that... the universe!) wants to share His majesty with us. As our Maker, He knows that we need this. He knows that we need Him.
Knowing that the God of the universe loves me -- me! -- enough to grace me with even a tiny bit of His splendor... Well, knowing this is very good for my soul.