by Sheri Schofield
It’s rodeo season here in Montana. Crowds flock to the fairgrounds to watch friends and family compete for prizes. The youngest rodeo riders, usually ages 4 to 7, start the contest by riding bucking sheep. They are the “wool riders”. Welcome to Mutton Busting! They hold onto the thick wool for dear life, cheered on by their families. Sometimes they cry when they are bucked off. They run to their mothers, who fold them in their arms and comfort them for a few minutes. Then the child wipes away his tears and rushes over to watch the next wool rider perform.
The rodeo events will gradually increase in danger from calf roping, to steer roping, horse shows, barrel racing, and bronco riding. Finally, the experienced riders head for the bulls. The huge animals snort and stamp their feet, just waiting for that man to drop on top of them. The gate opens. The bulls rush out, thrashing wildly.
This is the bull rider’s greatest test. Atop a horned bull that weighs between 1,500 and 1,900 pounds, the rider must spur this mountain of powerful muscles to make it an even wilder ride! It seems like an eternity as he holds on with only one hand! But in truth, the ride lasts only eight seconds. At the sound of the buzzer, the rider tries to jump off the bull and a clown rushes in to distract the angry beast while the bull rider picks himself up and heads for safety.
Sometimes, life can feel like a rodeo bull ride. We hold on for all we’re worth for what seems like an eternity before we are able to rest! We pass through stress, grief and loss. But it is not forever. It is only for a relatively short time, in view of eternity.
When we first begin to experience difficulties in life, we may be like the children—the wool riders—on sheep. It looks fairly safe from the standpoint of the bleachers. But to the child, it seems impossible! Then the tests increase in difficulty. We grow stronger. Soon, if we learn to stay in the saddle, we may find ourselves on top of the equivalent of a bull in life. Stay strong! Stay in the saddle! The ride is short! The rest is sure for those who trust God. The reward is tremendous!
We do not ride through these difficulties for our own spiritual maturing alone. Paul writes, “He (God) comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” (2 Corinthians 1:4, NLT).
As we grow spiritually from these difficult experiences, we are able to reach out to others and help them through their own anxiety or grief. Sometimes, we simply stand with them, arm across their shoulders, and let them know we care, that we are there for them. Sometimes we share our own sorrows or stress, and tell how God helped us through them. We help others hang onto life and Christ. We give them the gifts of listening and understanding, prayer and comfort – gifts that God has given us in our times of testing.
Are you riding a bull today? Or are you resting from the testing? If you are in the saddle, hold onto Jesus! He will get you through this.
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle, you will still be standing firm. Ephesians 6:10-13, NLT
About the author: Sheri Schofield is an award-winning children’s author-illustrator and children’s ministry veteran of 40 years. Sheri was named Writer of the Year in 2018 at the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference for her work in effectively sharing the gospel of Jesus. Her ministry, Faithwind 4 Kids, can be followed on her blog at her website, http://www.sherischofield.com. Questions welcomed!
Sheri’s new book, The Prince And The Plan, is a beautifully illustrated, interactive picture book, written for children ages 4-8, that helps parents lead their children into a lasting, saving relationship with Jesus. It explains abstract concepts through words and interactive, multi-sensory activities. Useful for children’s ministry as well.
Join the Conversation: Have you been riding a bull lately?