Saturday was a watershed day for me – I attended my first rodeo, and let me say, I learned a lot. I learned that this is a very complex sport. It requires strength, agility, speed and a healthy respect for animals.
I also learned that a 4 to 7-year-old in Texas has a different idea of playing than a 4 to 7-year old anywhere else I’ve lived! The youngest athletes at the rodeo strap on a helmet, lie on the back of a fully grown sheep, grab hold of the wool and hang on for dear life as the sheep tries to run away; this is called “Mutton busting”. I suppose it’s the rodeo equivalent to T-ball in baseball.
Saturday’s winner – a kindergartner with a ponytail and pink cowboy boots, also held her own at the microphone as she was presented with a belt-buckle and a trophy. My question is: where and how often do these kids practice? Most children I know in this age category wear a helmet to ride a bike, not a sheep!
Another event that surprised me was Calf Roping. This is when the cowboy sits on his horse beside a pen where a calf is waiting. The calf seems clueless. The cowboy is not. He knows what he has planned. Every movement has been well thought out and rehearsed over and over. The cowboy prepares his ropes; one to catch the calf and one to time it up.
When the time is right, the cowboy nods his head. The pen opens, the calf runs, the cowboy rides and in less than 10 seconds he ropes the calf, slides off his horse, runs to the calf, flips the calf, ties its feet and the calf is lying on the ground unable to move. Then, the cowboy walks away.
What surprised us the most is that the calf literally doesn’t move a muscle after it’s tied up; it just lays there in the dirt motionless. Is it stunned? Shocked? Paralyzed with fear?
The calf isn’t dead because immediately after her legs are untied, she jumps to her feet and like a bolt of lightning she’s off to the safety of the pen.
In real life, we’re a lot like the calf – we’re minding our own business, living life in oblivion in our little pen, not realizing the evil one is not too far away – sitting, watching, and preparing the ropes that he will use to catch us.
“sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you…” – Genesis 4:7 NIV
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8 NIV
The minute we step into the arena of sin we are fair game. The calf didn’t know what danger was outside her pen. We do. We know that there are places we shouldn’t go, whether in our minds or with our bodies. We must not assume that we can outwit or outrun evil. One little step in the wrong direction and before we know what hit us we are caught by the ropes of sin and tied up so tight that we can’t move.
Like the calf we can’t untie ourselves, and we lie helpless in the dirt. Stunned – we wonder how on earth did I get caught in this sin? Shocked – I thought I was above this; this is not like me! Paralyzed with fear – what will happen next? Who else will I hurt? What other sin am I capable of?
“An evil man is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him. He will die for lack of self-control; he will be lost because of his great foolishness.” – Proverbs 5:22-23 NLT
Who will save us? Who will rescue us? Who will untie the ropes of sin that bind us?
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” – Romans 5:6 NIV
“Therefore, there is no now condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” – Romans 8:1-2 NIV
Once you have been untied, you don’t have to stay in the arena. Like the calf, you can run safely to the protective arms of Jesus. Or, you can hang around and try to outsmart evil; you will get caught again.
If you’ve been untied, will you get up and get out? You’ve been set free!
If you are still bound in sin, you cannot untie yourself. Will you call upon Jesus to set you free?