July is rodeo time in Montana. Everybody crowds into the seats around the arena and watches cowboys and cowgirls ride animals. The first are called “wool riders”, children who ride bucking sheep. They hold onto the sheep’s wool while the sheep tries to buck them off!
All day long the rides get more difficult. The cowboys ride their horses out onto the field and rope calves. The fastest cowboy wins. Then they rope steers with horns. Sometimes there is barrel racing, when they ride their horses around barrels in the field. Some of the cowboys try to ride bucking broncos.
Finally, the cowboys with the most practice try riding bulls with horns. The bulls stomp their feet in the stalls. They snort! They start to buck! Then the cowboy climbs over the fence and sits down on the bull. The gate opens, and the bull races onto the field, bucking wildly. He tries his best to throw the cowboy off!
It’s a wild ride! For the cowboy, the ride seems to go on forever! But the ride is really only 8 seconds long. The buzzer rings, the cowboy jumps off the bull, and a clown runs out onto the field to distract the bull while the cowboy gets away from it. After all the bull riders have finished, the judges decide who did the best job and give him the prize.
Sometimes life feels like you’re riding a wild bull. It’s hard! You think the hard times will last forever! But usually the worst of the hard times pass, and you can relax again.
The Apostle Paul said, “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed . . . We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed . . . Our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; but rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.” (2 Corinthians 4:8,9,17,18, NLT)
Paul was telling us that sometimes life can be hard. But if we keep our eyes on Jesus and obey him, we will someday be given a reward - a prize - when we get to heaven. Just like the best bull riders get prizes here on earth!
So when things get tough, keep your eyes on Jesus and trust him to keep you strong during hard times. Memorize this verse and remember it always:
“Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will never fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6, NLT
See you at the next Campfire!
Hugs & kisses,