When I was in Ecuador, my friend took me to the little rodeo. There’s a square ring with a bamboo fence, and a bunch of people sit on the fence. Then, on the side, attached to the ring, is a big bull pen, filled with bulls that have been poked and prodded and made to be very angry. He opens up the door and a bull comes charging out. It runs into the ring and looks for someone or something to take all its anger out on. And the people on the fence don’t make it any better for the bull. They throw sticks and rocks and whatever they can find at him, making him even more angry.
Eventually, someone gets the courage to get in the ring and do a few olays with the red cape thing. The crowd gets a little excitement, the guy has some fame, the bull gets out its aggression. And the bull gets his licks in. Some guys I saw had a hard time walking afterwards. I heard that some of the big pains don’t really show up until a week later. It’s risky getting in the ring with the bull. You can really get hurt.
Well, at one point, a bull with huge horns came running into the ring. These things were probably over a foot long each. The bull came running out to the center, full speed, and started looking around, turning in circles, looking for someone to charge. I tell you, no one got in that ring. No one threw a stick, no one taunted it, no one got near it. It just stood in the center for about 15 minutes. It was one of the most boring things I’ve seen in my life. I thought, that’s wise. Never get in the ring with the bull. And then, the bull went back in his pen. It was over. No more raging bull. Everything went back to normal.
At one point, a little later, when some young guy was in the ring with another bull, I leaned over to my friend and said, “What do you think: hero or fool?” I didn’t have to wait a second: “Fool.” Yeah, I thought. Fool.
After Jesus is born, Joseph has a dream. The local king is a bully. He’s going to look for Jesus for a fight. God wants Joseph to take Mary and Jesus and run away to a foreign country. Now, Joseph is no fool. He’s not going to get in the ring with bull. It’s off to Egypt to � to wait. Well, sure enough, after a time, Herod’s gone. Then it was safe to come back and settle down. And that’s how Jesus ended up in Nazareth.
What did it accomplish? Is God a big chicken? Is He at the mercy of the bully?
Well, it just so happens that the prophets said that the Messiah would come out of Egypt. They also said He would be from Nazareth. Huh? How can that be true? How can the Messiah come from two completely different places?
With the help of the bully.
Even the bully is a part of God’s plan.
I drive by a sign on the ramp to get on route 93. It says something about how to stop bullying. There are bullying laws in the state right now. Bullying is a big thing. In schools, there’s the kid who has to be the center of attention and is always looking for a fight. You turn on the radio and TV, and there’s a person looking for a debate. There’s FoxNews and MSNBC, right vs. left, conservative vs. liberal, Red Sox vs. Yankees. It’s like the rodeo.
But if we don’t get in the ring, if we keep out of it and wait, we’ll realize that the bully eventually goes away. Something special will happen. It’s all part of God’s plan.
What happens when you come across a bully, someone who’s been really hurt and looking to take it out on someone, someone who puts themselves at the center and wants a fight? Don’t get into the drama. Don’t get in the ring with the bull. Don’t fight his fight. Yeah, it may be the boring way. You’re not going to get people excited. It may take a lot of effort. You may look like a big chicken.
But here’s the thing to remember: the bull only sticks around for a short time. Pretty soon, he’ll be gone. And something special will happen.
It’s all part of God’s plan.
Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over him who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
For the wicked shall be cut off;
but those who wait for the LORD shall possess the land.
Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look well at his place, he will not be there.
But the meek shall possess the land,
and delight themselves in abundant prosperity. (Ps 37:7-11)