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(Unsplash/Jordan Heinrichs)

I sense this new year will be like a rodeo bull ride for many of us. The stirrings, shakings and heavenly interruptions will feel like we are on a championship bull that defies us to hold onto it. We will need to learn quickly how to hold on and how to let go. This bull ride will expose what is in us. We must be fully persuaded that greater is He who is in us, than he who is in the world (see 1 John 4:4). And that He, Christ in us, is not afraid of being bullied by any bull.

Often After a Great Victory or Success Come the Greatest Defeats

After trusting the Lord with all your heart through blood, sweat and tears, with "eight" seconds of victory on a rodeo bull, when you fail to let go and exit quickly out of the electrifying arena, the bull begins to become the champion. It begins to attack the rider and retaliates with full blown death in his horns and hoofs that has been building up during those eight seconds. The standing and cheering ovation of the crowd changes to gasping and dread for the very life of the rider.

Spiritually, the number "eight" means "new beginnings." Many times at the height of success, in certain areas of our life and ministry, a new beginning has already started for you to enter into in another area of your life, which will yield yet greater fruitfulness. "Nine" means "fruitfulness," so you better be off the bull by the end of eight seconds to catch up with your new beginning.

How to Exit the Arena That Made You a Champion

I have never seen one champion bull rider leave the arena without his face in the dirt, a limp, a wound or a bruise of some sort. With all of the fame, every bone in his body is crying out with pain, and often there is help needed from others to help him get up and away from the bull he had overcome.

When you see someone being used greatly in ministry, and you think they are a champion in the Spirit, you don't know the pain that comes with overcoming the enemy of their ministry. You will be able to tell the real champions from the false. They will walk with a limp, and if you look real close, they will have a tear running down their championship face. And perhaps to your surprise, they are not really confident after all, as their security has just been shaken at the very core of their being at the height of success.

Many times, champions have difficulty limping off the field, as they discover fresh revelation that God is calling them away from the bull or arena of ministry they had victory in.

I sense myself, as well as others, feel an accomplishment in some areas in ministry and have seemingly experienced success as we have loved what we have been doing—especially when it seems to be blessing many others. But somehow I see many fingers besides mine, getting stuck around the rope of success, and God is announcing from the judges' booth, high above the arena of champions to, "Let go now! I want you off the bull."

Perhaps the bull is your "Isaac" ministry that everyone has fallen in love with and your identity has become wrapped up in. I wonder if Abraham's fingers got stuck longer than eight seconds on the rope that he wrapped around his son Isaac when he was about to sacrifice him.

Let go of the rope of your success—to embrace your new beginnings, that may take you from being a championship bull rider, to a possible unknown, where the only person who may know you is God, so you will get to know Him all over again. Or who knows, maybe you will get to ride a bigger bull!

Come Unto Me, All Ye 'Champions' That Labor and Are Heavy Laden

I sense the Lord calling many of us who have experienced some degree of success and even some degree of honor in ministry. Getting off of the bull can be risky and dangerous, but God is now reaching out His arms to catch us as we let go, and as we are seemingly thrown to the ground, He will bind our wounds, and pour in the oil and the wine to restore our souls.

Maybe I am alone in what I am experiencing in ministry. But in case there are perhaps thousands more out there, I want you to know you are not alone—God is with us. His new beginnings have already started for you and me.

It's in the letting go of the rope or ministry that we seal our spiritual championship!

Bill Yount has been a member of Bridge of Life in Hagerstown, Maryland, for the past 36 years, where he is now an elder and a home missionary. He is currently an adviser at large for Aglow International. Bill faithfully served in prison ministry at Mount Hope for 23 years and now travels full-time, both in the U.S. and internationally, ministering in churches and Aglow circles. Humility and humor characterize his ministry as he brings forth a fresh word that is "in season," proclaiming the word of the Lord. The shofar, or ram's horn, is often used in his meetings, breaking the powers of darkness over regions, churches and households. The shofar represents God's breath blowing into the nostrils of His people, reviving them and awakening the lost. Many of God's messages, which Bill ministers prophetically, come out of his everyday life with his family and friends. Please visit Bill's website at billyount.com.

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