What does bull riding have in common with following Jesus?


We all know what it is to worry. Most of us do not want to worry, but it is often more of an emotional response than a rational response. We worry about all sorts of things. In this passage, we hear Jesus talking about worries that have to do with their basic needs. Food, water, and clothing are basic needs. Some of us worry about having these basic needs met. Most of us are worrying less about these type of basic needs, but we are worrying about other things.
We worry that our house is nice enough or big enough. We worry about being dressed correctly for the occasion. We don’t want to be too dressed up or too dressed down. We want to make a good impression. We worry that we may not be accepted. We worry that we won’t have enough food or the right food when we are hosting a dinner party.

Jesus says to all of us as well as those who were gathered on a hillside with him, don’t worry. In Matthew 6:24-34 Jesus says do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is no life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

One of the things many of us worry about is how we are perceived by others. Personally, I want to be perceived as an erudite individual. I want to be taken seriously. I want to appear educated and wise. So, I often keep certain personal interests private because they do not necessarily go along with the image I want to project. There is especially one thing that I generally do not reveal when I want to project a professional, sophisticated, erudite image.

I am a fan of bull riding. I’ve said it. I watch bull riding, spend time on pbr.com (professional bull riders web site). I follow some of the riders on twitter as well as some of the bull fighters. I really love watching it. I will stay up late on Saturday night to see who wins the competition. I know the next stop on the build Ford tough tour. I know that is the name of the tour. I’m a fan.

 


This week one of the bull riders indirectly addressed this message from Jesus. As with most sports reporters do interviews with the riders so that we who watch can feel we know the riders. You know the type of interview even if you don’t know the sport. The bull rider, J.B. Mauney was asked by the reporter at the bull riding event, what he thought about while he was riding. In case you don’t know a successful bull ride is just 8 seconds. 8 seconds. J.B. replied that there really was not that much time for thinking. All he tried to do was think about keeping his hand closed and stay on the bull. He means that he wants to keep his hand closed around the bull rope. The rope is the way he and any other bull rider is holding on to the bull. So, hold on and stay on the bull. This is a person who has done extremely well by staying focused on these things. Hold on and stay on.

Most of us would not be that focused. The truth is that most of us would not even get near a bull because we would be worried. We would worry about what might happen. We would worry about this huge animal who weighs over 1,000 pounds become agitated or upset. We would worry about not being able to control the bull’s reactions to our presence. We would worry that the bull would butt us with his head. We would worry that he’d run us down. We would worry about all sorts of things before we ever even got close to a bull. Imagine then getting on the back of the bull, knowing that the bull is raised to buck you off. We’d be so filled with worry that I imagine most of us would be absolutely paralyzed with fear.

Even if you were somehow able to actually stay on the bull, you have to get off at the end of the ride. The bull does not stop when you say “whoa”. Instead the bull riders jump off this very large animal. As you jump off, you could hurt yourself or the bull could decide to express his frustration by butting you or accidentally stepping on you.

Most of us would be too worried about all of these things to evenconsider getting on the bull. Yet, J.B. focus is on holding on and staying on. Jesus tells us, strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Don’t worry, stay focused. Our focus is on the kingdom of God. Our job is to listen to the still small voice of God that comes to us and do the work of the kingdom. Don’t worry about the things of this life – whether it is meeting basic needs or other’s perception. Just stay focused on the kingdom of God. What does God want of you today? What does God want us to do? Don’t worry about anything in this life, because all of this is temporary, but the kingdom of God is eternal.

Keep focused. Listen for God’s voice. Sometimes it comes to us through our prayer life, when we hear the still small voice that Isaiah refers to in the Old Testament. Other times that calling comes through other people. When we are seeking that voice, then the other things of life will have less priority. They will not matter as much. We may still worry, but the worry will be in a better perspective because we are seeking God’s kingdom first. When we put the kingdom first, the worries become less as God’s voice becomes stronger. We are able to do what we need to do – ride a bull or change the world.

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