The Harness of the Lord

God continues to do all that is necessary to bring his children into absolute conformity to his perfect will. After all, haven’t his children prayed for centuries for his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven? Yes, this is a glorious time in which he is working in the Church as his primary channel through which he is pouring out his glory to draw all humanity to himself. I define the Church as all people everywhere and everywhen in whom Jesus resides permanently in his “unbodied” form of Holy Spirit.

 The glorious Church “without spot or wrinkle” is being conformed to the image of God through much tribulation and many fiery trials. In stark imagery, the Church is God’s “battle axe and weapons of war” with which he is subduing kingdoms and overcoming all his enemies. This is his “mighty and strong one” in and through which he has committed—as the Body of Jesus—the work of bringing the entire world—and everyone who has ever lived on it—into submission to the will of God. This is his Overcomer, his “great army” with which he is drawing nations into the Kingdom of God. The Church’s weapons of warfare are not earthly, natural weapons, but they are mighty spiritual and prayer weapons with which God is pulling down unseen strongholds. These are those who are “strong and do exploits.”

(See our companion teaching, Soldiers Training Manual)

But in order for God to fully commit this great and tremendous ministry into their hands, his children must first submit themselves to his discipline, letting him truly be Master of their entire lives. We have long since dealt with the question of open sin, but now God is dealing with the inward rebellion of our wills. Only those willing to be fully used by God are being dealt with in such a manner. Yes, there is a real dealing of God going on within those who are called into the High Calling of God. This is a very real experience, and is the work of the Refiner’s Fire. To those who are going through it, some of its aspects are excruciatingly painful, but very necessary, and the end result thereof is glorious as we are brought into absolute and complete submission to the will of God. (See our companion teaching, “Fire”)

A Vision Given By God’s Spirit

 In a recent minister’s conference, God gave me a vision which I want to share with you concerning this harnessing of our wills. There were more than 30 ministers present in this particular Thursday morning service, and God, the Father of spirits, was present to deal with his sons, to correct them and discipline them to absolute obedience to his will. There was such an awesome awareness of God’s presence that no one could go to the pulpit to speak and minister. There was a reluctance among the ministers to say anything except that which was directly given to them by God’s Spirit.

 And as those servants of Almighty God sat there in his awesome presence—some of them having many years of ministry, some missionaries, all of them capable of getting up and preaching a powerful sermon—I was deeply impressed by the way they responded to the discipline of God. And in the midst of this terrific dealing of God with our spirits, God’s Spirit gave me the following vision . . .

The King’s Carriage

“On a dirt road in the middle of a wide field stood a beautiful carriage, similar to a stagecoach, but all edged in gold, and with beautiful carvings. It was pulled by six large chestnut horses, two in the lead, two in the middle, and two in the rear. But they were not moving; they were not pulling the carriage and I wondered why not. Then I saw the driver underneath the carriage, on the ground on his back, just behind the last two horses’ heels, working on something between the front wheels of the carriage.

 I thought, ‘He is in a dangerous place, for if one of those horses kicked or stepped back, they could kill him; or if they decided to go forward, or got frightened somehow, they would pull the carriage right over him.’ But he didn’t seem afraid, for he knew those horses were disciplined and would not move until he told them to move. The horses were not stamping their feet nor acting restless, and though there were bells on their feet, the bells were not tinkling. There were pom-poms on their harnesses over their heads, but the pom-poms were not moving. They were simply standing still and quiet, waiting for the voice of the Master.

Two Young Colts In The Field

 As I watched the harnessed horses, I noticed two young colts coming out of the open field, and they approached the carriage and seemed to say to the harnessed horses: ‘Come and play with us, we have many fine games, we will race with you, come catch us . . .’ And with that the colts kicked up their heels, flicked their tails and raced across the open fields. But when they looked back and saw the team of horses were not following, they were puzzled.  They knew nothing of harnesses, and could not understand why the horses did not want to play. So they called to them: ‘Why do you not race with us? Are you tired? Are you too weak? Do you not have strength to run? You are much too solemn, you need more joy in life.’ But the harnessed horses answered not a word, nor did they stomp there feet or toss their heads. But they stood, quiet and still, waiting for the voice of the Master.

Again the frisky colts called to them: ‘Why do you stand so in the hot sun? Come out here in the shade of this nice tree. See how green the grass is? You must be hungry, come and feed with us, it is so green and so good. You look thirsty, come drink of one of our many streams of cool, clear water.’ But the harnessed horses answered them with not so much as a glance, but stood still, waiting for the command to go forward with the King.

Colts In The Master’s Corral

And then the scene changed, and I saw lariat nooses fall around the necks of the two colts, and they were led off to the Master’s corral for training and discipline. How sad they were as the lovely green fields disappeared, and they were put into the confinement of the corral with its brown dirt and high fence. The colts ran from fence to fence, seeking freedom, but found that they were confined to this place of training.  And then the Trainer began to work with them, with his whip and his bridle. What a fate for those who had been all their lives accustomed to such freedom! They could not understand the reason for this torture, this terrible discipline. What great crime had they done to deserve this? Little did they know of the responsibility that was to be theirs when they had submitted to the discipline, learned to perfectly obey the Master, and finished their training. All they knew was that this disciplining process was the most horrible thing they had ever experienced.

Submission and Rebellion

One of the colts rebelled under the training, and said, ‘This is not for me. I like my freedom, my green hills, my flowing streams of fresh water. I will not take any more of this confinement, this terrible training.’ So he found a way out, jumped the fence and ran happily back to the meadows of grass. And I was astonished that the Master let him go, and did not go after him. But he devoted his attention to the remaining colt. This colt, though he had the same opportunity to escape, decided to submit his own will, and learn the ways of the Master. And the training got harder than ever, but he was rapidly learning more and more how to obey the slightest wish of the Master, and to respond to even the quietness of his voice.

 And I saw that had there been no training, no testing, there would have been neither submission nor rebellion from either of the colts. For in the field they did not have the choice to rebel or submit, they were ‘sinless’ in their innocence. But when brought to the place of testing and training and discipline, then was made manifest the obedience of one and the rebellion that lay hidden in the heart of the other. And though it seemed safer not to come to the place of discipline because of the risk of being found rebellious, yet I saw that without this there could be no sharing of God’s glory.

Into The Harness

Finally, this period of training was over. Was the colt now rewarded with his freedom, and sent back to the fields? Oh no. But a greater confinement than ever now took place, as a harness dropped about his shoulders. Now he found there was not even the freedom to run about the small corral, for in the harness he could only move where and when his Master spoke. And unless the Master spoke, he stood still.

The scene changed, and I saw the other colt standing on the side of a hill, nibbling at some grass. Then across the fields, down the road came the King’s carriage, drawn by six horses. With amazement he saw that in the lead, on the right side, was his brother colt, now made strong and mature on the good corn in the Master’s stable. He saw the lovely pom-poms shaking in the wind, noticed the glittering gold-bordered harness about his brother, heard the beautiful tinkling of the bells on his feet . . . and envy entered his heart.

Thus he complained to himself: ‘Why has my brother been so honored, and I am neglected? They have not put bells on my feet, nor pom-poms on my head. The Master has not given me the wonderful responsibility of pulling his carriage, nor put about me the golden harness. Why have they chosen my brother instead of me?’ And by the Spirit the answer came back to me as I watched. ‘Because one submitted to the will and discipline of the Master, and one rebelled; thus has one been chosen and the other set aside.’

Famine In The Land

Then I saw a great drought sweep across the countryside, and the green grass became dead, dry, brown and brittle. The little streams of water dried up, stopped flowing, and there was only a small muddy puddle here and there. I saw the little colt (I was amazed that it never seemed to grow or mature) as he ran here and there, across the fields looking for fresh streams and green pastures, finding none. Still he ran, seemingly in circles, always looking for something to feed his famished spirit.

 But there was a famine in the land, and the rich green pastures and flowing streams of yesterday were not to be had. And one day the colt stood on the hillside on weak and wobbly legs, wondering where to go next to find food, and how to get strength to go. It seemed like there was no use, for good food and flowing streams were a thing of the past, and all the efforts to find more only taxed his waning strength.

 Suddenly, he again spied the King’s carriage coming down the road, pulled by six great horses. And he saw his brother, fat and strong, muscles rippling, sleek and beautiful with much grooming. His heart was amazed and perplexed, and he cried out: ‘My brother, where do you find the food to keep you strong and fat in these days of famine? I have run everywhere in my freedom, searching for food, and I find none. Where do you, in your awful confinement, find food in this time of drought? Tell me, please, for I must know!’

And then the answer came back from a voice filled with victory and praise: ‘In my Master’s House, there is a secret place in the confining limitations of his stables where he feeds me by his own hand, and his granaries never run empty, and his well never runs dry.’

And with this, God made me understand that in the day when people are weak and famished in their spirits in the time of spiritual famine, that those who have submitted their own wills to God, and have come into the secret place of the most High, into the utter confinement of his perfect will, shall have plenty of the bread of Heaven, and a never-ending flow of fresh streams of revelation by his Spirit.”

Thus the vision ended.

Interpretation of the Vision

 “Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that reads it.” Habakkuk. 2: 2) “Harness the horses: and get up, you horsemen.” (Jeremiah. 46: 4). I’m sure that many of you who can hear what the Spirit says to the Church, have already seen what God was showing in the vision. But let me make it plain. Being born into the Family of God, feeding in the green pastures and drinking of the many streams of the unfolding revelation of his purposes is fine and wonderful. But it is not enough.

 While we were children, young and undisciplined, limited only by the outer fence of the Law that ran around the limits of the pastures, (that kept us from getting into the dark pastures of poison weeds), the Master was content to watch us develop and grow into young adulthood, spiritually speaking. But the time came to those who fed in his pastures, and drank at his streams, when they were to be brought into discipline and training for the purpose of making them mature, adult sons and daughters.

 Many of God’s children today cannot understand why some of those who have put on the harness of God cannot get excited by the many religious games and the playful antics of the spiritually immature. They wonder why the disciplined ones won’t run after every new “revelation” or feed on every opportunity to engage in seemingly “good and profitable,” dead religious activities. They wonder why some will not race with them in their frantic efforts to build great works and great and notable ministries.

They cannot understand the simple fact that this group of followers of Jesus is waiting for the voice of the Master, and they do not hear God in all this outward activity. They will move in their time, when the Master speaks. But not before, though many temptations come from the playful colts.

And the colts cannot understand why those who seemingly appear to have great abilities and strength are not putting it to good use. “Get the carriage on the road,” they say, but the disciplined ones, those in God’s harness, know better than to move before they hear the voice of the Master. They will move in their time, with great purpose, and great responsibility.

And the Lord made me understand that there were many whom he had brought into training who had rebelled against the discipline, the chastising of the Father. And they could not be trusted with the great responsibility of maturity, so he let them go back to their freedom, back to their dead religious activities and revelations and gifts. They are still his people, still feeding in his pastures, but he has set them aside from his great purposes at this time in history. So they revel in their freedom, feeling that they are the chosen ones with the many streams of living water, not knowing they have been set aside as unfit for the great work he is doing at this time.

And God showed me that though the chastising seems grievous for the moment, and the discipline hard to endure, yet the result with all the glory of being in his perfect will far exceeds the suffering we endure. And though some lost even their lives in this training, yet they will share alike in the glory of his eternal purposes.

So faint not, fellow followers of Jesus, for it is God who brings you into the confinement of his will—and not an enemy. It is for your good, and for his glory, so endure all things with praises and thanksgiving that he has counted you worthy to share in his glory! Fear not the whip in his hand, for it is not to punish you, but to correct and train you that you come into submission to his will, and be found in his likeness.

Rejoice in your trials, in all your tribulations, and glory in his cross, and in the confining limitations of his harness, for he has chosen you, and has taken upon himself the responsibility of keeping you strong and well fed, so lean upon him, and trust not in your own ability and understanding. You shall be fed, and his hand shall be upon you, and his glory shall overshadow you, and flow through you as it goes forth to cover the earth. Glory to God! Bless the Lord, he’s wonderful! Let him be Master of your life, friends, and complain not at that which he brings to pass in your life.

Plenty In The Time Of Famine

 For in the time when famine sweeps the land, he shall feed by his own hand those submitted to his perfect will, and who dwell in the secret place of the Most High. When terror stalks the land, those in his harness shall not be afraid, for they shall feel his bit and bridle and know the guidance of his Spirit. When others are weak and frail and fearful, there shall be those who are strong in the power of his might, and lack for no good thing.

 In the hour when the pointless and dead traditions of the religious systems have proven false, and their streams have dried up, then his Chosen ones shall speak forth with the true Word of God. So rejoice, children of God, that you have been chosen by his grace for this great work in these times.

The fence which kept the colts in their own meadows and their own pastures means nothing to the team in the harness, for the gates open to them, and they go forth pulling the King’s carriage into many delightful and wonderful places. They do not stop to eat the poison weeds of sin, for they feed only in the Master’s stable. These fields they trample under their feet as they go forth on the King’s business. And so to those who are brought into absolute submission to his will, there is no Law. For they move in the Grace of God, led only by his Spirit where all things are lawful but not all things are expedient.

This is a dangerous realm for the undisciplined, and many have perished in sin as they leaped over the fence without his harness and His bridle. Some have thought of themselves as being completely harnessed and submissive to him, only to discover that in some area of their lives rebellion and self-will continue to reign. Let us wait before him until he puts his noose around us and draws us to his place of training. And let us learn of the dealings of God and the movings of his Spirit until at last we feel his harness drop about us, and hear his voice guiding us. Then there is safety from the traps and pitfalls of sin, and then shall we abide in his house forever!


NOTE: Adapted and edited from a leaflet printed by a dear friend, Bill Britton, of Springfield, Missouri—gone on a few years ago to the next exciting stage of LIFE’s Journey through the ages of time and eternity.

Bill Boylan
Revised and Updated February 2023

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