Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Kick Loose and Ride for the Win

After decades of not getting it, (I mean completely obtuse, dumb-as-a-post not getting it), finally the combination is entered, the tumblers have rotated into alignment and the lock is open!!

Welcome to my epiphany!

I have been asking God for most of my adult life to give me a way to understand trials and suffering in the lives of His children that would allow me to really, actually, truthfully, from-the-inside-out, see them in a positive light.  I just could never get all the way there. I always believed that God brings good out of things the enemy intends for evil, but I NEVER EVER could FEEL anything but dread and sadness and fear when it came to facing trials.  Worry and  fear of what God might allow in order to teach me something have been my long-standing battle. I have learned and wrestled with the truth and I have chosen trust instead of fear, but it has been hard every time.  What I longed for was the kind of understanding that is so integrated into my thinking that it reaches through my mind and my will all the way to saturating my emotions.

Oh the gracious faithfulness of God, my Father! May He grant me the added grace to present my epiphany in a way that will touch you the way it has touched me!

I have never been on the back of a bull and never will,
but I now consider myself
a bull rider


Here are a few things a bull rider knows:
  1. A bull rider is most fired up to ride when he has a chance to get on a really "rank" bull.  A rank bull is one that bucks harder, kicks higher and spins faster than the rest.  The rider knows that the best way to a winning score is to ride the toughest bull in the pen.
  2. A bull rider knows that pain is part of the game and considers it a non-factor in his ability to ride.  "Cowboy Up" is his mantra and his mindset--come hell or highwater, pulled muscles or broken bones, cowboys RIDE.
  3. A bull rider knows that he isn't strong enough to overpower a 1500 pound animal.  He knows that great bull riding is about making the moves that counter the bull's actions, which actually takes power away from the bull.  A ride like this is a thing of beauty!
  4. A bull rider knows that he has to stay on for the full 8 seconds. 7.99 seconds gets a NO SCORE. This game requires endurance even though the time is fleeting.  As the cowboys say, "Don't let go until your head hits the ground!"
  5. A bull rider knows (a good one, anyway) that it doesn't work to just "c lamp down" and try not to fall off.  You have to keep repositioning your feet, keep hustling to ride that bull jump for jump.  You have to kick loose to stay in the middle and keep holding on.
  6. Finally, a bull rider would never get on a bull without the bullfighters there to protect him.  He knows he may not always be able to land on his feet and the bull may have a mean streak.  He knows the danger isn't over until he is out of the arena.
So what does bull riding have to do with it, you're wondering.

I'll try to sum it all up:
  1. Each trial is like a rank bull I GET to ride which gives me an opportunity to WIN!
  2. Pain is part of life on fallen earth and is a non-factor in my call to RIDE for the WIN! Cowgirl UP!
  3. I am not strong enough to overpower my trial or the enemy who moves against me!  I have to meet his moves with the counter move of Scripture which takes all the power away from him! I want my ride to be a thing of beauty!
  4. Time in the trial feels endless and requires endurance, but in the light of eternity, it's only an 8-second ride--I'm going to RIDE until my head hits the ground or until I hear a trumpet sound!
  5. If I tighten up and just try not to fall off, I'm likely to be thrown sky-high.  But if I kick loose, stay relaxed and flexible, hustle to make the jump-for-jump adjustments, I'll be tossing my HAT sky high in a victory celebration when the ride is over!
  6. Finally, I'll never try to ride without my Bullfighter's protection!  The Holy Spirit knows the bull, He's my biggest cheerleader, and will put Himself between me and the bull if I'm in harm's way. He'll make sure I get safely "out of the arena."
I don't know--this may seem silly to everyone but me, and if it does, you have my heartfelt apologies. I pray though, that if you've had trouble with seeing trials as anything but negative, you'll find hope in my bull riding analogy!

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds . . .
 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."  James 1:2, 12 NIV

Will you join me in becoming a "bull rider?"
How do you think about trials without getting negative?


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