When I was a little girl I have very vivid memories of my mom gathering us around before bedtime and reading us a book. All of these books usually had important life-lessons. I loved listening to my mom read and when I became a mother I started this tradition with my own kids. It’s still one of our favorite things to do as a family.
One of the books my mom read to us was, “Where the Red Fern Grows.” To this day it is still one of my favorite books. A book about a boy named Billy who dreamed of owning his own hound dogs. Unlike today, Billy didn’t have the option of entitlement or immediate gratification so he had to work hard and long days to buy the dogs he desired. After a couple of years, he finally had enough money to buy his dogs and he named them, Old Dan and Little Ann. He was ready to teach them how to become coon trapping hound dogs.
One thing from this book that has stuck with me my entire life is the way Billy’s grandpa told him how he could catch a raccoon. First, find a log and drill a hole just big enough for the raccoon’s paw to fit inside. After drilling the hole, pound two nails diagonally into the log and drop a shiny object into the hole. This can also be done using a simple tin can and placing a shiny object into the can. Raccoons are curious animals and they are drawn to bright, radiant objects. That dazzling item is all that is needed to tempt the raccoon to reach his paw into the log or the tin can and wrap his fist around the object.
And just like that, the raccoon is trapped! Can He escape? Of course he can! But he chooses to remain trapped, because he is not willing to let go of the captivating object that lured him there. All he needs to do is open his hand, drop the object, and he’s free. However, the raccoon is often to stubborn to drop the object. He is obsessed with it and becomes a slave to an object that he doesn’t need. An object that steals his freedom and will eventually cost him is life.
Just like the raccoon, we can gaze upon a bright, shiny object and all of a sudden find ourselves ensnared into a trap of slavery, a trap that steals our freedom and sometimes our lives. In Romans 1, Paul calls himself, “a slave to Christ,” not out of duty and fear but out of love and gratitude.
If we aren’t enslaved to Christ, we will find another luring, captivating object. It can be an eating disorder, pornography, bitterness, unforgiveness, greed. It can even be a good object, that eventually replaces Christ and becomes an idol in our lives, such as our kids, our marriage, a job, etc. Again, in Romans, Paul says that people, “Exchanged the glory of God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.” Our hands desire to be clenched around something, and if it’s not Christ, we will find ourselves in chains that trap us, control us, and steal our ultimate purpose of life; to love and serve our Creator.
If our hands are entwined around Christ and all that He encompasses we will live in absolute, perfect freedom. Beth Moore has said, “Christ is the only one who I can bind myself to and find freedom. He is the only one that frees while binding.”
Unlike the raccoon, who is bound to a life-threatening object, I want to be bound to Christ. I want my fist wrapped so tightly around Him that I don’t ever want to let go. I want to say I am a slave to Christ. I need nothing more. He is enough. And it is here, bound to Christ that we can live in the freedom He intended for us.