BULLS IN CHINA SHOPS
AUTHOR – BILL TAYLOR
COPYRIGHT 2017 – BILL TAYLOR
PUBLISHED BY BILL TAYLOR AT Shakespir
Shakespir Edition License Notes
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Special thanks to Shila and Pragna for their encouragement and inspiration
1 – FROM THE HEART
2 – A PERSONAL STORY
3 – A GRACE COMEBACK
From The Heart
Based on the way “following Jesus” has been presented to us, our individual interpretations of the information expressed can vary drastically. Our backgrounds, upbringings, personalities and life experiences can, and often do, find themselves interwoven in the presentation and equally so, in the interpretation.
Both giver and receiver of the information experience the same parallel dilemma. We write and read, speak and hear, through human filters that are at best somewhat tainted. Is it any wonder our net result is multiple impressions of Jesus. Sadly at times, impressions we will defend to the death, thinking them to be holy and sacred within themselves.
We like “extremes” and find “balanced thought” unsatisfying to our minds, Why? As humans, extremes make us feel “more right” than others! “More right” is important to us so we invest an inordinate amount of time and energy frantically investigating the “others’’ and predictably, seldom come back with a positive report. That would defeat the purpose of our investigation.
Well, as is always the case, extremes produce opposite extremes and the war is on! Attacks and rants produce nothing more than counter attacks and rants. An ongoing dynamic we strangely seem comfortable with as the body of Christ cannibalizes itself! With heals dug in and our need to be “exclusively right” at stake, we will tear out the heart of anyone who gets in our way as we defend our bubble of illusion. Illusion? There is only One who is always right and it’s not any of us! His name is Jesus.
We can find ourselves habitually caught in the cycle of defending tainted biases with greater vigilance than can possibly be justified. As we exhaust ourselves in doing so we forget: There is no such thing as a Baptist or Pentecostal or “you name it” Jesus! He will never wear our labels! He’s far too transcendently holy to join us in that game! A very sad game that has no ultimate winner, as has been proven throughput history. If there is a label to be worn with appropriate pride, it’s us wearing His!
Based on our previously mentioned “faulty human filters” it would do us well to at the very least consider the possibility that at times we represent our Lord as “labelled” and for that we are responsible! With that in mind the thrill of being “more right” should be losing its appeal.
A Personal story
At twenty seven years of age, with a wife, two small children and out of a life completely void of anything that could be remotely considered as Godly, God found me in the most realistic of ways imaginable.
My wife experienced the same gracious introduction by God a mere few weeks later. We were radically saved to the uttermost and uncontrollable within the context of our enthusiasm.
It was unimaginable to us that God was not only real but loved us! While beyond our minds ability to comprehend this divinely imparted information, we knew in our hearts it was true and walked in that truth with a euphoria not of this world.
The Creator of the universe had just said hello in the most loving of ways! What else would or could we do but be overwhelmed?
It wouldn’t be very many weeks later that a Gospel Quartet graced our small country church with their ministry in music at a Sunday evening service. For my wife and I, this was incredible.
The music didn’t disappoint but rather exceeded our expectations and in a moment of excited jubilation we clapped our hands in appreciation. Woops! We didn’t know.
Those of you who are of the more up-dated genre of church life may wonder what it was we didn’t know to cause a woops.
“No clapping” as it could be interpreted as honoring men and not God was the deemed offense by a “single” gentleman with an opinion!
This heinous infraction was considered by him as being so grievous that in his mind a public and immediate rebuke in front of all in attendance, was not only necessary but it should be he, with his embraced sacred opinion, who should deliver the reprimand and he did.
Well, I wasn’t “that saved” nor was I ready to be tied to a post and stoned to death with words of forgiveness flowing from my lips.
You see It had only been a few short weeks prior that I was putting “white stuff” in my nose and snorting it, so with all due respect, the crime of “hand clapping” was a little hard for me to take seriously. But what I did take seriously was the embarrassment inflicted on me and my family at the hands of a man with an opinion!
After totally inappropriate words were exchanged, I with my family in tow walked out. My apologies to the Gospel Quartet who stood as if frozen in time on the platform in dis-belief.
Multiple church changes would ensue but the seemingly irreparable damage had been done and it was just a matter of time before leaving church life permanently would happen. We simply couldn’t put the event behind us and always seemed to bump into the “next person” with a self-thought sacred opinion that superseded thus circumvented compassion from their abundantly expressed thinking.
The accounting of the tragic costs involved is enveloped in this haunting question. What could have been that never was? The immeasurable potential that was snuffed out due to one man’s need to be right at any cost, cannot be accounted for accurately in that the costs continue to compile and will forever!
My wife at the time is now my X wife of almost thirty years. Her children – our two sons, haven’t heard from their mother for almost as long. We were never the same after the fact. You see we didn’t know how to react so we ran, not to God but away from Him as if we without meaning to sub-consciously held Him accountable. Our short lived euphoria in Jesus was gone and tragically so! The cost continues to mount unless one were to think that I don’t consider the well-being of the mother of my children as important. If so, you would be terribly wrong.
In total, my absenteeism from church life, which has now thankfully been re-established for a good amount of time, is a whopping twenty five years!
Throw in a post marriage ending nervous breakdown and you begin to scratch the surface of the true cost of one man’s legalistic opinion being of paramount importance in his mind. It’s spiritually unimaginable that anyone would consider themselves as having such authority and yet he did!
On the journey to my eventual exiting of church life I met a wonderfully prophetic and kind man named Jim who I amazingly trusted in the light of all that had happened. His gentle spirit was non-threatening and most attractive.
Jim pastored a down town Toronto congregation which I had been attending for a few short weeks at the time and he sensed my troubled heart, thus the invitation. Jim wasn’t someone you could fool with a cliché or two and a smile. While spending the week-day with him and his wife, I was asked to share the story with him which I agreed to.
His graphic conclusion with tears in his eyes? “My God Bill you and your wife were spiritually aborted after the fact”! He continued with a question: “I can’t talk you into staying can I’’? Now with tears in my eyes I responded: “No I can’t stay, I’m pretty well finished and I know it. I’ve just been hanging on but it’s time to let go”.
He requested ten more minutes which he used to tell me what I was to expect as a future. Chilling words but in hindsight shockingly true. “Bill, God is going to bring you back better than ever as if resurrected from the dead but first there is a very long wilderness trek to be walked, but trust me and hold on to this truth as your hope, you will be back”!
What seemed ludicrous at the time and increasingly ludicrous as time passed, has now become fact! I’m back and as foretold by a very kind man of God named Jim, better than ever!
But still, what could have been that never was takes my breath away. Hopefully it feels the same for you. It’s caution is our prevention from becoming “Spiritual Bulls In China Shops”!
Having transitioned in my retirement to full-time writing as my much appreciated ministry, it’s a personal concern of mine. I recognize it as a blessed privilege to be allowed the opportunity of expressing my heart for Jesus through the written word. I’m equally aware that with privilege comes responsibility. In other words: I don’t get to write whatever I happen to feel like writing. I want to honor the privilege by recognizing the attached responsibility.
I can’t speak for others but from a personal perspective, I don’t believe for a second that the incredible gift of writing God has graciously granted me was given to be used as a platform for the expressing of my opinions on everyone and everything, but rather, with extreme care and sensitivity, representing the sacred and beautiful person of Jesus to the very best of my ability to do so. When you think about it, aren’t we all who know Him privileged communicators in some way or another with the same responsibilities.
A Grace Comeback
God has a miraculous way of making things right folks! His magnificent grace accounts for all factors involved and responds accordingly. That’s not to say I deserved a comeback. There’s no doubt that I played a significant part in all the previously mentioned destruction.
I could have reacted in a far more understanding way although that would suggest I had the understanding to do so. I’m sorry I didn’t or couldn’t whichever is the correct descriptive.
My comeback is not to highlight me but rather the God that refuses to quit on us even when we have quit on Him. His faithfulness and compassion has a quality that isn’t of this world nor can be fathomed by it. It transcends our ability to rationalize it! This I do know; God’s grace is more than sufficient and in that truth I find my rest, peace, and healing.
He promised to “not lose” ONE that the Father had given Him. That seems to be the only reason I have to explain the wonderful place God has brought me to and where I now thankfully reside.
My brother from the past is well forgiven and understood. Denominational biases taken to the extreme can become tyrannical slave masters causing us to participate in the most hideous of behaviors in their defence, all the while un-knowingly grieving the Holy Spirit. That’s a tree we have no business eating from due to its probable and perhaps predictable ramifications. Here’s the irony in the story. The gentleman in question was a very good man. Thus the shock factor. You don’t have to be a monster to fall prey to this stuff!
The still highly honored Mother of my children is prayed for every day, twice a day. You see she’s one of those ones who Jesus promised not to lose and He won’t! She’s not insignificant collateral damage in His heart, nor is she in mine!
My sons are doing great and are now well into their forties and happily married.
And as for me: If you’ve read “Reflections Of A Sheep” you’ve heard of Shila and Pragna, my very closest friends of fifteen years and greatly appreciated life companions. As we journey together on the road less traveled with Jesus, we do so with the understanding we have been gifted to each other. God gives good gifts! Both ladies are extremely beautiful internally and externally and make me look far more handsome than what is my true reality! I think that’s called transference by association! Whatever it’s called it works!
And then there’s my writing which God has cultivated over the past three years into my life’s passion. What an amazing chapter of my journey with Jesus writing has become!
In short: God has created for me a wonderful life of which I’m so very thankful for. I am a very blessed by grace man and have never been more content in my life.
And yet one thing remains in my soul as the lingering residue of my experiences. A sober thing of appreciated discomfort that serves as a constant reminder. A type of “thorn in the flesh” that cautions me: “Bulls break China”! Don’t be one!
The China spoken of is massively valuable to God! “Handle with extreme care” is my calling and caution! Therefore if I err may I always do so on the side of compassion.
You see it’s the compassion driven grace of Jesus that brought me back from a far off place. The compassion of a Shepherd for His lost Sheep! He could have wagged His finger at me from afar off but instead He came to get me.
We all know someone who ‘’used to” but “now doesn’t”. Behind most of their stories there’s a connecting story of someone who had an all-important, in their mind, opinion!
Our Lord is called the Lamb of God not the “Bull of God” and we are to be “conformed” to His glorious image therefore “reformed” from our own! It’s a humbling experience but one that is necessary if we are going to represent Him accurately.
Can I in inclosing offer a simple suggestion that perhaps we could consider as we interact with God’s greatly loved creation. We aren’t talking to machines nor “generic” whoever’s but rather individual hearts than can be broken by our words. The flip side is those same hearts can also be healed by our words. The entrusted by God power of words is a sacred thing to be exercised with great care. May Jesus give us heavenly “anointed” sight to see hearts as He does! Precious enough to hang on a cross for! Far more precious than “questionable at best” opinions.