I once witnessed a bull run amok in an African village. An Orchard: Africa Care Giver and I were visiting a patient when we heard the high pitched wailing of what sounded like a young girl but actually turned out to be a teenage boy’s frantic cry for help. The Care Giver and I left our patient stranded in her bed as we headed outside to see what all the commotion was about.
An enormous brown bull charged past us, a wide grin on his face and a roguish twinkle in his eye. Trailing in his dust was a skinny, barefooted boy, defeated and miserable. The bull stopped just beyond where we were standing, his sandpaper tongue lolling in the wind as he looked back. Boy and bull sized each other up. The bull summed the situation up quite adequately; his adolescent adversary didn’t stand a chance. The huge beast swaggered over to a small patch of vegetables and started chewing off the top of somebody’s hard grown carrots. The boy, with a horrified look on his face, summoned up what seemed like his last ounce of energy and squealing like a banshee, charged after the bull. The Care Giver and I doubled over with laughter as the bull merely sidestepped the lad and literally led the high-pitched youngster around the garden path.
By this time the boy and his bull had attracted a crowd of amused spectators. That is, except the owner of the now ruined vegetable garden. A grey haired man came out of his mud house, looked over at the bull, glanced at the boy, shook his head and then with forefinger and thumb in his mouth he let out a loud whistle. As if by magic the animal stopped in his tracks, stood stock still as the elderly man grabbed one of the bull’s twitching ears and the brown giant meekly allowed himself to be led out of the vegetable patch. The man then similarly grabbed the young boy by the ear, gave a little twist and said, “You will never stop a bull by screaming like a girl.” He then let go of both boy and bull and walked back into his house.
Every now and again, my soul seems to run amok like this bull. For no sane reason I get a twinkle in my eye and with tongue lolling in the wind I do something stupid. Perhaps it is to go on a shopping spree. I have found clothes in my closet that make no sense. Why would I ever have bought it? Then I remember that it was on sale. It seemed like a good buy at the time but when the dust settled I realize why it was on sale – nobody else wanted it. I got caught up in the store’s hype and my soul ran amok.
The other day, during my early morning devotional time, I read this piece in a book by Abraham Heschel. “Our energies are too abundant for living indifferently. We are in need of an endless purpose to absorb our immense power if our souls are not to run amok. We are either the ministers of the sacred or slaves of evil.”
When I read this, it immediately made me think about the village boy and his bull that ran amok. Here are some similarities between humans and bulls:
- We are both creatures with immense power.
- We need a purpose to absorb that power.
- Without a purpose our souls will run amok.
- Our energies will be used – either as ministers of the sacred or slaves of evil.
And, like that bull that ran amok, we all will obey someone. Will it be the voices of this world or do we immediately recognize The Voice?
“When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” John 10:4&5