|All's well and in control. Right?|
To simply use the bull on Wednesday as an example, I was struck by the fact that the people in the crowd thought they were safe. I am sure they felt in control. It was fun to them, or they wouldn’t have paid to be there. Everything was fun, safe, under control, and pleasurable . . . and then, in a second, sheer terror broke out as that which they thought they were safely in control of turned on them and plowed them over without effort. I timed it—it is four seconds from the first picture where the bull is simply trotting in the ring and the crowd is buzzing with anticipation to the third picture where the bull is leaping into the stand and the people are screaming. It is less than two seconds after the third picture that the bull is among the crowd, charging in to them. In under six seconds it went from a “game” in which the bull was the “safe” object of the people’s enjoyment, to where that same “object” was in their face and tossing them and they were helpless to stop its onslaught.
I think of how many times we play casually with God and sin. We think we are “safe”—in control—that just a little of this or that, or that just holding back from God a little is okay—that we can contain it—that it won’t be a big thing or get out of control. We sit as spectators, treating eternity and sin and God’s holiness and majesty casually, thinking we are in charge and we are in control.
Maybe it is dabbling in sin. Maybe it is thinking we can come to God at a later date, when we want—that we have time. Maybe it is holding back from God what is rightfully His—be it our affection, or time, our values, our entertainment, our finances. Maybe it is not actually doing something bad, but rather not doing what is good, or right, or commanded—a sin of omission, not commission. Maybe it is thinking we have tomorrow to fully surrender to Him and His will and make our life count for eternity . . . that today it is okay to just play and dabble in our hobbies and personal pursuits . . . that we “deserve” it.
Whatever it is, I am struck by the fact that we think we have got it under control—that we are the special, different one who can dabble or compromise a little and not get bitten. That we are safely protected behind the walls of our wits, or our spiritual maturity, or our self control—or insulated by the belief we have tomorrow. And then, in an instant, like a pacing, unseen lion that suddenly chooses that moment to pounce from the brush, that which we dabbled in and thought we controlled strikes, and we realize that we were playing with a den of rattlesnakes treating them as though they were cute worms for bait. The sin turns on us and has our throat in a second. The lie of pleasure and hobbies we convinced ourselves we deserved rears its head above the cross, and we sob, realizing that we don’t have a second chance to live for Him and not us. We are called suddenly home and see all our hobbies and entertainment consumed in the fire, and how little of our life’s work stands for eternity.
God offers us all the joy and meaning we could ever absorb as we walk in intimacy and surrender with Him, and let Him live through us. That is our purpose, and our privilege. Outside of that it is a counterfeit. It looks like the real thing, and it promises pleasure or provision, but it is a bull in a ring. The irony is that, as we fall into the same temptation Eve did of thinking it is possible to find pleasure, provision, and wisdom outside of intimate obedience and total surrender to God, we actually step into the crowd at that bullfight. We have fun, think we are safe, think we are in control, when, in reality, the bull, or the lion, we are “playing with” have in them the potential to, at any moment, turn and trample us into the ground—and show us how flimsy and futile the walls we thought we had erected to keep us safe truly are.