Live long enough, and you’re bound to see some odd things. Especially nowadays, it’s a blessing if, on any given day, you don’t see something that doesn’t shock you, amaze you, or disgusts you, and I’m not even what some might call a social butterfly. Depending on where you live, you can walk out of your front door and see firsthand what sin can do to man, degrading him to the point of being something other than human. You can see in real-time the way it ravages, destroys, and pollutes, leeching humanity itself from those in its grasp, leaving them hollow and empty inside. Depending on your location, you can wade through a sea of human misery every morning or watch a sunrise crest over a snow-peaked mountaintop.
Let’s just say that when it comes to my day-to-day, I’m quite predictable. Some may call me a creature of habit, but unless there’s some extraordinary event going on, like a trip to the zoo, I’m either home or at work with a smattering of grocery runs and a couple of walks sprinkled in for good measure. Just from going to the store, going for a walk, or driving into the office, I have enough stories to keep someone engrossed for many a night. We live in a strange world, and it’s getting stranger still.
Since it’s been unseasonably warm in Wisconsin the last few days, I thought I’d go for a walk the other day. The temps had reached into the forties, and that’s mighty fine weather for these parts. There are walking trails behind our house, and you can go a good way without the risk of a teenager driving her mom’s Kia, sipping her Starbucks, and texting her boyfriend all at the same time plowing into you.
You may think it improbable, but it almost happened last year, only it was an old Land Rover, and she ended up taking out a mailbox rather than yours truly. I may be a big boy, but I’m light on my feet. Bobbing and weaving that’s the key, as is being able to hear the diesel rumbling toward you and looking to see if the driver was on their side of the road.
I was not the only one who decided it was a good day for a walk. There were couples walking hand in hand, moms pushing strollers and cooing at their babies, and a good helping of people walking their pets. While most of the dogs were on a leash, there was one lady who decided a leash might be too constricting for her baby; yes, I know, I’m going to get hate for pointing out that if it has four paws and a tail, it’s not your baby, but it is what it is.
It seems her baby was the precocious sort because from behind me, I heard a squeaky bark, then the lady screaming, “release, Boomer, release, release.” I turned around to see Boomer pulling at an older man’s pant leg, him trying to pull away, and the lady continuing to screech, “release, release.”
The last thing I heard before walking out of earshot was, “I’m going to have to kick him away if he doesn’t let go of my leg.”
Boomer wasn’t a big dog. I don’t think he could have hurt the old man even if he wanted to, but that pant leg was just too tempting, and no matter how many times his mommy screamed release, he was on a mission, and that was that.
Sometimes we act a lot like Boomer. We pray, God hears, He gives us instructions, and the only thing left to do is obey, but that’s where everything goes sideways. Most often, the instruction is as simple as release, let go, unburden yourself, and lay down that thing that’s been grinding you into the dust and keeping you from moving forward. You know you should; you’ve wanted to, thought about it, planned for it, imagined what it would be like not carrying such a heavy load, but then you just shrug your shoulders and keep ambling along.
You even go so far as self-sabotage, delaying your freedom, telling yourself that tomorrow might be a better day to get out of the shackles, escape prison, and be free and not weighed down with what’s been destroying you slowly but surely.
God will open the prison doors, but you have to walk out. God will unshackle you, but you have to want to be free. If you’ve been crying out to God for a change and the change hasn’t come, perhaps He’s waiting for you to lay your burdens down, so you don’t get wheezy and lightheaded with the higher elevation.
The journey from where you are to where you want to be is always higher. It is an upward trajectory that becomes impossible if you’re weighed down with the things of this earth, the things of the past, with the regrets, mistakes, and yes, habitual sins, because let’s face it, it’s not just those of the world that are consuming the filth that is being put out endlessly.
Sanctification, transformation, regeneration, all these require less of you and more of Him. If you’re unwilling to surrender more of yourself, He cannot endue you with more of Himself, and you’re at a stalemate. Why aren’t you hearing the voice of God more clearly today than you were yesterday? Because there was no growth from one day to the other. There was no movement; there was no further self-denial or dying of self.
That’s why you haven’t grown, that’s why you haven’t matured, that’s why you haven’t expanded your faith, understanding, or obedience; because you were unwilling to release what was in your hand for what He has in His.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea, Jr.