My oldest son is a bull rider. From the time he was three years old watching it on TV something about it captivated his heart. He would sit and watch for hours as a 130 lb man attempted to vest a 2000 lb tornado. He would beg us to let him try to ride one so, we broke down and agreed that when he was 8 he could try. Honestly, I thought he would out grow it, that it was just a phase, that by the time he was 8 he would have moved on….that wasn’t the case. His eighth birthday rolled around all too quickly, as they tend to do. He only wanted one thing, bull riding equipment. A few weeks before we had taken him to Montgomery to let “try” it out. I reasoned in my mind, we better let him try it before we purchase equipment and” waste that money”. So there we were…there he was 2 weeks shy of his eighth birthday, climbing on the back of a bull. He lasted longer than I had anticipated but landed flat on his back. All the wind immediately was knocked out of those tiny lungs. I ran to the chutes to check on him… I asked all the typical mom questions and he just shook his head. He couldn’t speak a word. But then I asked him “how’ed you like that?” he looked up at me with a grin a mile wide, shaking his head up and down and gathered enough breath to say “when can I do it again?”. I knew from that moment on that this wasn’t a phase but little did I know exactly the weight of this sport would have on our family.
A few weeks latter I found a rodeo association in North Alabama. As I look back, I know without a doubt that God set it up for us. That me running across it wasn’t a coincidence but providence. We knew nothing about bull riding. We watched it on TV but that was it. All the form and the training it takes to excel didn’t even register with us that first year. We knew one thing…to be a bull rider you have to be tough. That’s all Collin knew at that point as well. Hang on and be tough. We had no idea how tough he really was. Its amazing how tough one can be when their living out their God given dreams. Anyway.. The third bull he ever got on he turned out. (meaning he choose not to ride him). On the way home from the rodeo that night, I sat in the back of the van with him. He kept shaking his head and putting his head into those tiny little hands and saying “ I’m so mad at myself…” I told him that there was nothing wrong with being a fan of bull riding without actually riding bulls. I went on to say “bull riding isn’t for everybody.” I will never forget what he said to me…those blue eyes looked up at me, glazed over as he held back the tears and said “ I was meant to be more than a fan….it’s for me.” I knew in that moment what had happened to him behind that chute: fear. Fear had stolen his opportunity and had the chance to still his dream and passion. Realizing this was a strategic moment for him I then said “then you can’t let fear steal that from you. If you want to be a bull rider and God has put this in your heart – you have to make up your mind right now not to let fear steal that away from you.”. And he hasn’t since. There has been times when I thought “he’ll never want to ride again after being beat up like that.”. But he does. Times when I think to myself as he is being beat to death in the chute “he’s got to be scared out of his mind.”. If he is it doesn’t show. One time stands out in my mind… he got his hand hung in the bull rope, he was being dragged and tossed about. The bull fighter couldn’t get his hand free, 10 men finally got the steer stopped long enough to get his hand out. His pants were ripped off, his vest had been as well. Any normal 9 year old boy would have been shaken up but his first words to his daddy were “please don’t let mama make me quit.”. Im proud of his resolve of his resistance against fear. But more than that I’ ve learned a valuable lesson from my child, in him I have seen what it is like to truly be courageous. To fight and not coware. To get back up when you’ve been knocked down. Most importantly that faith > fear.
I look at him so young yet so firm in purpose and I stand amazed. I cant help but glance back at my past and realize all the times that fear has stolen something precious from me. Fear is a nasty opponent. It rationalizes itself and camouflages as concern or reality. Fear shackles so many of us, keeping us locked in the cell of anxiety and dread. Dreams are unfulfilled, ministries have yet to be started, relationships are never made…we miss our chance. All because of fear. As I go through the files of my mind, I see just how much fear has stolen. I was too afraid to make that call…, to scared to enroll in that class…, to afraid I would be rejected…to scared I wouldn’t measure up…fear has stolen much. It dwells on the “what if’s” and makes the risk seem greater than the reward. It screams so loudly in our minds that our resolve is deafened.
Fear is a thief.What has it stolen from you?
There is one simple combat for fear. We find it in Philippians 4:5b “The Lord is at hand..” this simple 5 word statement is a cure all for fear and anxiety. When the reality of Gods presence truly hits us than fear loses its threat over us. Fear threatens us with lies that question Gods love, that some how we’ll end up abandoned and forsake. Even though we know He has NEVER let one of his own fall, fear tells us we’re the exception. When we buy the lie that fear is selling us than our vision is distorted. We cant see the circumstance for what it is, we only see what it “could be”. The thick cloud of “could be” settles down on our minds and causes us to question, to retreat, to backup or to just freeze. It seems innocent enough at the time, but behind the thick disguise of that cloud, fear is stealing from us.
I have so many examples I could go on and on. But the latest one is my newborn. He came into this world 3.5 weeks early but not a moment too soon. His birth was 9 days after my mothers death. We needed him, needed to know there was still beauty in this world, that God’s grace is till prevalent over this fallen culture. He was tiny, weighing 6 lbs 7 ozs but was perfect. We had a small army praying over that babies development and prayers were answered- he needed no oxygen, no lights..he was 6 lbs of perfection.
We were in the hospital room, all the visitors had come and gone for the day. We sat on the bed gleaming in the joy of his precious face when suddenly he gagged, all the flem from birth had not be extracted and he was choked. He went stiff and couldn’t catch his breath. My husband ran for a nurse as I did all I knew to do. After a quick suction of the nose he caught his breath and all was fine. But I wasn’t. As the night ticked on, I sat there…terrified. I felt it. That cloud of fear descend upon my mind and it stayed there for the next few weeks. I was afraid he would choke again, afraid he would spit up and aspirate, afraid something was wrong that they missed, afraid of SIDS, too afraid to close my eyes and fall asleep. Fear had stolen my joy of this grace filled gift. This child was no doubt given strategically at this time in our lives, placed here to be a rainbow of hope. But yet I was letting fear steal that joy.
Its time to expose whats going on behind that cloud. How different would our lives be if every time we feel the threat of fear blowing in that we refuse to let that cloud hover over us. When the lies pour into our minds we fight them off with one simple phrase “the Lord is at hand..”. Fear limits and throws us off the coarse God has laid out for us. We coware back instead of surging forward. Fear is more dangerous than we tend to reason; it steals Gods gifts to us. It ransoms what was meant for the redeemed. It not only steals opportunities, but our God given rights as daughters/sons of the King: our peace, joy, victory, purpose…etc. Christ paid the price to grace us with these things, but fear snatches them away.
You were meant for more. Your life wasn’t intended to be dictated by fear. You were meant to be radiant and full of confidence, taking the “bull” by the horns and saying “you are no match for my God.”
That incident with my son was over three years ago now, so I have wondered why God is bringing it back up again. Maybe because it breaks His heart to see His people lose their peace and joy. Perhaps it’s because He is tired of us not fulfilling our purpose. Or maybe it’s because He realizes the agony we are in and He wants to expose what fear is doing to us.
Hold on to whats been given you, don’t pull back in fear, walk out of that prison cell and take your place in the Kingdom. The enemy has and will always use fear against us because he realizes what a danger we would be to the kingdom of darkness if we used whats been given to us.
So, the next time fear blows into your mind make this declaration ” I was meant for more…”
“When I am afraid I put my trust in you” Psalm 56:3