Have you ever felt “locked in” to an action or attitude that you knew was a mistake but you couldn’t stop? An addiction you couldn’t shake, a habit you couldn’t break, or a lifestyle change you didn’t know how to make? As Christians, we’ve all been there. Satan finds a chink in our armor and wriggles his way into our life through thoughts, actions, and deeds. By the time we become aware of what is happening, we feel imprisoned and unsure if we will ever be set free.
Jesus died on the cross to set us free. Sometimes we forget this fact. Or perhaps it’s not that we forget, it is that we cannot fathom a love so vast and all-encompassing that one who is perfect and without sin, would lay down his life to save us wretched, sinful, unworthy souls. We don’t deserve what He did for us and we can’t earn it. We can only accept it as the gift it is meant to be. Do we really stop and think on this very often.
The Holy Spirit used an incident with our cats the other day to remind me. We have two outside cats who roam free in the woods around our house keeping small critters at bay. Most days we see them at least twice a day, morning and night when I feed them. Some days if we’re on the run, we may not see them at all, but I see that their food has been eaten and know that they’ve been there.
On this night, I went to feed the cats and noticed there was still food in their bowl. Very unusual. I called them to dinner and only one came to eat—Ralph. I then thought back and I couldn’t remember when I had last seen our other cat—Felix. I asked the hubs if he remembered seeing him, and although he couldn’t remember exactly, he felt like it had been within the last day or two. We figured he was out and about and would be home soon so another night went by as we waited.
Breakfast time came and still no Felix, so the hubs and I decided to go out and look for him. We didn’t have to look far. He was shut up in my husband’s car—and before you panic, yes, he was alive and well! And a very happy, grateful cat. When my husband reached in to get him out of the car, his little heart was beating rapidly and as we put him down to walk he danced around our feet rejoicing to be set free from his car-prison. He went straight for the food, and ate and ate, drank a little, and ate some more. Ralph was so happy to see him that he came up beside him and bathed Felix with his tongue while he filled his empty belly. It was a joyful moment.
In thinking back on it, I realize we are like Felix the cat. We have a good life—food, shelter, family, friends—but we’re always looking for more. For Felix, his normal resting places weren’t good enough and he saw an opportunity to climb in my husband’s car through an open window and check things out. Things might have worked out okay, except it started raining. And it wasn’t an early April “shower.” It was a heavy duty, ground soaking rain. Realizing the window was down, the hubs dashed out, rolled it up, and came inside. He never realized Felix was inside until we started looking for him. Much like we find ourselves amid our mistakes, Felix was trapped, wondering how, when and if he was ever going to be set free.
Can you imagine how relieved Felix was to be rescued and out of that car? Do you remember how relieved and welcome you were when you finally reached out to Jesus from whatever “prison” you found yourself in and He set you free? What a glorious feeling!
Our next step is to do exactly what Felix the cat did. We run for food and water. The only difference is our nourishment comes from His word, other Christians, and prayer. We are so grateful to be set free, that we devour whatever “food” we can get our hands on that reminds us of Christ.
The other cat, Ralph, rejoiced with Felix as he tasted his new freedom. He welcomed him back, and lovingly bathed him as he ate his food. Shouldn’t we, as Christians, react that way when one of our brothers and sisters in Christ has been set free? Shouldn’t we be so jubilant and loving as they begin their new life as a Christian or re-enter the Christian life they might have wandered away from?
In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! Luke 15:7 (NLT)
The next time you feel imprisoned by circumstances you find yourself in, reach out to Jesus and ask Him to set you free. You may still have to face the consequences of your situation, but He will set you free from guilt and shame, irrational thinking, addictive temptations, etc. However, we must take the first step; we must turn to Him and accept that He willingly lived, suffered, died, and rose again so that we could be awarded that freedom.
Once we’ve acknowledged our own or someone else’s freedom in Christ, let us rejoice with them. They are joyful in heaven, so let’s join the celebration and encourage each other as we grow more mature in our Christian walk!
Amazing, isn’t it? What God can show a person’s heart using two cats! Look around. I bet he’s showing you something too.
Note: No cats were harmed in the writing of this post. They are both alive and well and the hubs and I are checking in buildings and cars before we shut any doors.