Bull Stern wore his nickname with pride. His parents started calling him Bull because of his persistent stubborn behavior as a toddler. He was such a handful that he soured his parents on having any more kids.
His obstinate behavior intensified through the terrible twos, tantrum threes and furious fours. Mom and Dad gave in to most of his demands just to buy temporary peace. Dad worked long hours in a not so secret effort to be away from the house as much as possible. Mom didn’t have the same luxury so she was understandably excited when she was able to ship Bull off to kindergarten. Perhaps, she thought, the teacher could change her Tasmanian devil into a likable kid.
At parent teacher conferences through Bull’s elementary grades the teachers spoke of their frustrations. He was head strong and unreachable. He wanted his way in everything.
Mom and Dad Stern began to attend church. Bull seemed to calm down within the walls of the sanctuary giving his parents hope for change. Once, a Sunday school teacher shared that Bull had seemed to consider an invitation to invite Jesus into his heart. Then he’d changed his mind and said that it was silly.
A few years later Bull joined some of his freshman classmates at a teen service. The speaker suggested that the teens listen because Jesus was knocking at the door of their heart. At his invitation several of the teens moved to the front of the sanctuary for prayer. Bull left.
High school proved to be a difficult time for Bull. While others were making friendships he was becoming more of a loner. He tried sports, but struggled with the concept of teamwork. He quit football when the coach refused to make him the quarterback. He rode the bench in basketball because he wouldn’t run the plays. Finally, at seventeen Bull quit school.
The Stern’s were tired of dealing with their boy and when he ran away they were half hearted in their efforts to locate him. They ultimately learned that he was crashing with a family across town. A week later they checked on him and he had left. No one knew where he was.
Over the following years Bull worked brief stints for dozens of employers. He tried dating, but tired of girls trying to change him. Sometimes caring people tried to get inside his shell, but he turned them away. In time people, like his parents had, quit trying.
He lived alone and greeted visitors or offers of advice or assistance the same way. “Leave me alone!” So, he was…alone. He ignored health warnings. He did what he pleased, growing obese, smoking heavily and drinking too much.
One day, when he was thirty two, there was a knock on his door. Thinking he recognized the person he saw through the peep hole he opened the door. “What do you want?”
“Bull, it’s me, Jake. Can I come in?”
“Yeah, Jake Simmons. We were in Sunday school together.”
“Oh, Jake, yeah. Um, I don’t know. I’m in the middle of something. Maybe another time.” Bull started to close the door.
Jake slipped his foot in the opening.
Bull was taken aback. Usually people seemed relieved when he ended conversations.
“Bull, it’s important. I really believe Jesus wants me to talk to you. Please?”
“Jesus, eh? And what might he be wanting you to talk to me about?” Bull asked. He let up on the pressure he was putting on Jake’s foot.
Jake stepped back. “Well, there are two things really. First, he wants to be your friend and second, he’s still knocking.”
Bull was stunned. No one wanted to be his friend. Why would Jesus want to? Then he thought back to the last time he’d heard about Jesus knocking at his heart’s door. A lot had happened since that day and little of it had been good. Still knocking? He’d have to give that some thought and he told Jake he would.
“Bull, just remember, Jesus gives you the choice, but death doesn’t.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Bull demanded.
“Jesus will continue to knock, Bull, either until you let him in or death shuts the door forever. When death comes, choices are done. Ding dong, you’re gone.”
Without even a good bye or thank you,
Bull closed the door in Jake’s face.
Three hours later, Bull started to feel some pain in his chest.
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