“Stuck in the Middle Again…”
I absolutely love the picture of that panda stuck in a tree! It reminds me of one of the funniest things I ever was a part of…
At one point in my life I worked as a counselor at a “boot-camp” for very troubled youth. Every young man in this facility was connected to a gang and had had some major run ins with the law. I had forty young men that I was over, ranging in age from about fourteen to eighteen. Most of these kids were from large cities and had never lived in a rural environment. The boot camp was in the hills, in a very rough and isolated area. The facility did not have security walls- and didn’t really need them. At night we took the boys’ shoes, so if they decided to run, they would have to run barefooted. We told them not to try to leave because there were mine shafts in the area that they could fall into; rattlesnakes; mountain lions, bears, and so on. It was also a very long walk to the closest town. So, of course, one of my gentlemen decided to run one night – bare feet and all! I called the sheriff, and got some of our team out looking for him. Close to dawn, our searchers heard someone yelling: “Help, someone please help me! Help! Help!” They ran to the sound, and sure enough, it was my tough little lost gang banger in the top of an oak tree. When the searchers got close, they yelled at him: “What on earth are you doing up in that tree?” He quickly answered: “Oh, man, it was awful! Take me back, I won’t do it again… come on man, get me out of here. There was a big black bear at the bottom of the tree and it mooed at me all night long!” It mooed at him all night long… The boy had never seen a cow before, and thought a black Angus cow was a large black bear! He was taken back to the facility; treated for a few cuts and bruises (especially on his feet); and disciplined for his attempted escape. He never tried to run again; and warned the other kids of the hazards of taking off in the middle of the night.
That boy was stuck up in a tree for hours. He wasn’t stuck there because he was in danger of being eaten by a “big black bear”. He was stuck there by two things: bad choices; and fear. If he hadn’t made the choice to run from the consequences of his choices; and if he hadn’t been afraid to face what had him treed, he would have been safe in his bunk getting the rest he needed. How many times do we try to take the easy way out? try to take a short cut? try to avoid the results of our choices? How many times do we live in pure anxious torture because we are afraid to deal with “stuff” we know we need to deal with? I know for me, personally, it has been too many times!
The Fourth of July is upon us. It is a day we have set aside to give thanks for our freedom and a time to honor those who paid dearly for that freedom. I thank God for my freedom here in America, and I take advantage of my freedoms each and every day. As Christians, we have been given a freedom like no other. Christ has given us freedom from our past; freedom to live free today; and freedom from eternal punishment. But I have a question, do I, do we, take advantage of that freedom? Or, am I, are you, stuck in the proverbial tree with a big black bear mooing out threats at us? My “bear” may be a struggle with addiction, or relational issues; yours may be something else. No matter what your “bear” looks like – Christ defeated him! He sent him packing when He paid the price for our sins on the cross. My friend, we don’t have to pray for victory – the victory is already ours! Our task is to learn how to walk in it. And what is amazing to me, is that the Holy Spirit is with us to teach us how! Today is the day to stand in the midst of our fears and deal with any consequences or situations we may have to deal with. Trust me, living life in the freedom of Christ truly makes life “bearable”! (Every pun intended!) #walkinginmyfreedom