It’s one of those pictures where you are relieved to know that the people captured in a painful predicament survived and recovered just fine. That way, you don’t feel guilty laughing at them. In the October 2007 issue of Reader’s Digest (p. 109), there is an incredible picture from the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. What are the chances that one bull would be lucky enough to skewer brothers. One either end of this bull’s rack are Americans that were, um, painfully caught. The bull, literally, took them by his horns. Even Hemingway would have to call this “poetic justice.”
It would be interesting to learn the etymology of the phrase, “take the bull by the horns.” We know it is an encouragement to endure the risks in doing something bold, daring, and difficult. It depicts bravery, bravado, and brazenness.
What happens when risk and daring backfire? What about when you stick your neck out and your nearly lose it? What about when your big dreams come to resemble a nightmare?
When the bull takes you by the horns, it hurts. Though I don’t know this from first hand experience, I have seen the video footage and enough photos like the one in RD to believe it. It hurts when you take that big risk (to invite a friend to church, to have a Bible study not end in baptism, to hand an olive branch to someone you’re at odds with and have the hand slapped, etc.). Acknowledge that those who dare and do will sometimes know defeat.
When the bull takes you by the horns, it’s not usually fatal. I have concluded it is the adrenaline rush of staring death in the face that gets these Type A’s into the narrow streets of Pamplona. The dread of the goring is felt many more times often than the point of the horns. If you’ve failed trying something big for the Lord, you may wrestle with being gun-shy. Yet, ask yourself, “Did it kill me?” If you are reading this, it obviously did not! Try again! Your next attempt may be your greatest.
When the bull takes you by the horns, learn from it! When it comes to the running of the bulls, I’d say that the lesson to be learned is stay off the streets when angry bulls seeing a lot of red are turned loose there. Perhaps another lesson is to run at least a step or two faster than the guy beside you. But, when daring to do great things for God, learn from the mistakes and failures. Let it instruct you. Be wiser next time. Try a different approach. But, at all costs, do not stop doing your very best for Christ.