The sign read, "Bull riding, September 26th at the fair grounds." That was just what my son John was waiting for; a chance to ride a real live bull calf. By the time Friday night rolled around, John was fired up and ready to go. With cowboy boots on and his heart beating through his shirt, John walked into the bull riding ring and straddled three hundred pounds of restless cowhide.
The goal was to stay on for eight seconds without falling off. When the gate opened and the calf took off, John held on with everything he had. When the dust settled and he picked himself up off the ground the clock read 2.8 seconds. The beast had not only thrown him off, but he also stepped on him. Fighting back tears of pain and limping toward me he said, "I want to try that again!” That’s my boy! He got knocked down, but not knocked out.
Life is kind of like a bull ride; the goal is to stay on without falling off, yet many of us seem to spend a lot of our time holding back tears and dusting off our britches. Life takes some unexpected turns at times, and no matter how hard we try to hold on, we often times find ourselves face down in the dirt with a bruise on our backside.
Throughout the New Testament, we are warned that our journey will be difficult and trying (for example Matthew 7:14). Jesus never promised us a rose garden. God also knew that we would fail at times so He gave us accounts of how men failed but got back up and finished strong. Peter stands out as one who thought he could hold on for the whole ride only to find himself face down and fighting back tears of remorse for denying the Lord (Matthew 26:75). He meant well, but when the pressure was on he came face to face with his fears and failed. Later, this same coward would die a fearless martyr’s death.
In Proverbs 24:16, it says that, “The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.” The devil’s plan is to defeat us, but that is not God’s plan for us. In the times when our humanity throws us off in our journey with God, we have only one option; humbly pick ourselves up, wipe away the tears, dust ourselves off, learn from our failures and limp toward our heavenly Father saying, "I want to try that again!" Then get back up and ride.