One year in my late teens I spent several months working for farmers. I drove the truck for one during harvest. Then I spent a month on a cattle farm, putting up hay, fixing fences, things like that.
The fences were in bad shape. The first day, the big Hereford bull walked through the fence to graze the greener grass on the other side. I had heard and read enough scary stories about what a bull could do that the sight of this guy filled me with a sense of impending trouble.
Then the farmer said “Put that bull back in the pasture.”
I was shaking, but I didn’t want to admit that a grown fellow like me was afraid of a bull. So I prayed. At that point in my life I only prayed when fear overwhelmed me.
Then I walked toward the bull. He looked up, shook his head–then ambled along the fence line toward the gate. I went ahead of him, opened the gate, he walked into the pasture and I closed the gate.
That was my daily task after that; when supper time came, I first helped the bull go back where he belonged. The bull and I never became friends, but he knew the routine and was always cooperative. That stretch of fence was the last one fixed.
In later years I have faced other bulls in my life, in the form of thoughts. My father was prone to unpredictable outbursts of anger. That seems to have left a hook within me where fears of how other people might react in anger can fasten themselves. Other destructive thought patterns became a routine in my life.
In time I realized that these are tempting and tormenting spirits from the realm of darkness. I don’t want them, but my willpower is not enough on its own to overcome them.
So I pray. Then tell those thoughts to go away. By the grace of God they do. The next day I have to rebuke them again. Victory comes through Jesus Christ, but the battles repeat day by day.
Jesus said: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me,” (Luke 9:23).