“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment – Cowboy Proverb
It’s a strange feeling to wake up wondering where you are and how you got there. From a guy whose taken a few shots to the head, within the first few minutes, the puzzle can be solved of where you are and how it came to be. It doesn’t change the interesting feeling.
It was mid-june and I was down in Lyndon fighting bulls at a youth rodeo. The bull riding was still a few events away and I was doing what I always do before the bull riding: annoy the judges and chute help. The stock contractor looked over the chutes during a down time and asked me “if I was going to get my vest on and fight bulls today?” While I wasn’t paying attention, they had run some jr. bulls into the chutes. Without hesitation I put my vest on and hopped into the fray. The first bull bucked that day came out 2 jumps and spun to the right. The bull rider came off to the outside of the spin and I stepped in. Fifteen seconds ago I didn’t have my vest on and now I was making a save. The bull didn’t look at me as he continued his spin, but the bull rider wasn’t making a real quick get-a-way so I stepped in a second time I paused between bull and bull rider, when he stuck a horn under my right knee lifting me into the air. I was perched atop his head just long enough for my head to make contact with some part of his body. He took me for a ride, two spins with me as a hood ornament. I don’t remember that part. I came too sitting on his head and holding onto the bull rope. He flung me clear and left the arena. He had no intention of hitting me in retrospect…I just kinda got in the way. When I opened my eyes, sitting on his head, with a bull rope in hand, I wondered where I was and how I got there.
Someone once said: “Experience is what you got when you didn’t get what you want.”
My briefly lived football career, my time spent on the cross country team, my service in ministry, all were times when I didn’t get what I wanted, but appreciate what I got. Fighting bulls, roping, and my attempt at cowboying has been spent getting experience. But my times of greatest experience pale in comparison to Moses.
Life had been good for Moses. He was saved from the waters of the Nile by Pharoah’s daughter (Ex . 2.5-6) In a wacky turn of events, his mother gets paid to raise him (Ex. 2.8) until he is old enough to learn the ways to rule. He grew up in the best schools of the most powerful nation on Earth (Acts 7.22). He was training to lead a nation.
But his quick temper got him into trouble and he killed an Egyptian who was mistreating a Hebrew (Ex 2.12). Now his life of luxury was behind him and he ran to the desert and entered his own time of “wilderness wandering”, following some of the dumbest animals that have ever graced God’s green earth: sheep. His father-in-law puts him to work and he spends 40 years wandering the desert tending his flock, not getting what he wanted but getting what he needed,
Experience to lead God’s people through a tough 40 years of their own; experience that Jesus would view as his ministry; experience to see that best lessons of schooling is no match for a relationship with God; experience that God would use as a metaphor of His relationship with us.
How many times did Moses feel like he was wasting his time? I feel like I am wasting my time often. I work at a school where I have no leadership and responsibilities. I have a bachelors degree in Old Testament, which I challenge you to find a more useless degree in the secular world. I feel like most of my life at this phase is a wilderness wandering where I am gaining experience. Experience….that I have no idea for what. Learning to trust God in these times is difficult as I wake up every morning and question the point of a lot of it. But experiences that Moses took from his time as a shepherd helped shape him into the leader that God could trust with His people. I write this to remind myself that this is a phase, a stage, where I may not be getting what I want, but am certainly getting what I need.
What lessons are you learning in your desert wanderings and what experience are you gaining now that God is going to leverage in the future?