“Whoever flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his feet.”Proverbs 29:5
“An evil man is snared by his own sin.” Proverbs 29:6a
“Fear of man will prove to be a snare.” Proverbs 29:25a
It sure looked good. It sounded good at the time. Thought it was a good idea. I didn’t know. Did it again. How many times have you said or thought one of those statements this week? Or already today? We have a knack for getting caught up – tangled – and the Deceiver knows it. So he sets the trap, changing the appearance of it if necessary, and waits. Before long you, and I, are lying face-down in the mud. Again.
First, don’t beat yourself up. You’re not alone. But second of all, fight smarter. We can get much farther when our shoelaces aren’t tied together. Jesus has so much more he wants to show you. Maybe you should just take off your shoes for the walk.
“Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” James 4:17
Often the first time that we stumble is a valuable life lesson. Learning the hard way, as we like to put it. It appeared to be one way, but the experience proved to be entirely different. The commercial made drinking seem like a party; the next morning made it feel like a boxing match. The woman on your computer screen seemed like beauty to look at, but what you saw made you feel nervous that someone might find out what you just did. The position that you took seemed like a good fit, but the compromise of your values started to eat at you. The relationship seemed like a promising friendship, but you never saw it becoming a shameful affair. Deception. Tangled. Just as the young boy or girl starts hanging out with a crowd promising unconditional love finds themselves suddenly trapped in a very conditional and controlling relationship, so too can our search for the good leave us stuck. That is exactly what happens when we “learn the hard way” but never untangle our shoelaces. We are soon unable to move with freedom. Unable to fulfill our purpose.
Jonathan and I found something like that. At Boston’s Museum of Science, my sons were able to choose an item or two from the gift shop. There were many fascinating (and overpriced) items, but Jonathan selected Newton’s Cradle. You have seen it before, often on someone’s work desk. It’s the string of five suspended metal balls, and when you raise and drop one of the end balls, the one on the opposite end kicks out. Equal and opposite reaction. I liked his selection. Until we opened the box. The picture you see is what Jonathan brought to me after he opened the box. In fact, that’s the picture of Newton’s Cradle after I had already spent five minutes attempting to untangle the lines. It was NOT what we had expected it to be. But don’t we find that out all the time?
I don’t know what trips you up, but I know that you know. And it’s quite possible that you have started to just believe it is part of you. You’re right and you’re wrong. It is a part of you, but it is not a part of your design! If we had decided to leave Newton’s Cradle as it is seen, the one who purchased it would never have seen it fulfill its purpose. Now let’s rewrite that sentence. If you or I remain tangled up as we are, the One who purchased our freedom will not see us fulfill our complete purpose.
First, you must recognize that you are stuck. We look more like that picture than we care to admit. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 You’re a mess. That’s ok. Second, we must be brought to the One who can complete our freedom. Third, we allow whatever needs to be moved to be moved. It took me 45 minutes to completely untangle that mess! Thirty minutes just to set one of them free! And for the first ten minutes, I could not tell that anything was changing. And it might seem that way to you as you go through the process. But do not give up!
There were several times that I thought of just cutting the lines and trying to put it back together. That would have completed the freedom component, but not the design component. In order to truly be untangled AND the way that God designed you, it will take patience. And it will take time. And Jonathan helped demonstrate another aspect of our freedom as we drove home – the potential to be tangled again still exists. However, once you are again untangled, you also have the capacity to fulfill your purpose again and again and again.
What is it for you? I’d really like you to think about that. Hold up the present picture of you to the picture your Creator has of you. Now, are you willing to let Him move the parts that He needs to UNTIL He sets you free and EVEN THOUGH you might not see the progress right away? “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
You were not purchased to look like this, but you were purchased WHEN you looked like this. But now it’s time to start looking like the picture on the box, the picture the Creator envisioned all along.