We have all heard about the ways monkeys are captured in the jungles of Africa. Hunters set out large heavy bottles on the jungle floor. They put sweet-smelling aromatic nuts inside that lure the monkeys to the bottles. The mouths of the bottles are just large enough to get their little hands through and grab the nut. Only problem is they can’t get their hand out without letting go of the nut, and they can’t drag the bottle away because it is too heavy. The hunters return in the morning to find a captive monkey next to each bottle.
Much as Darwin would like you to erroneously believe those fellows are descendants from our common gene pool, they are not. And we may look down upon those primates with sufficiently opposing thumbs, but it doesn’t take too much of an imagination to see how we are so often “like” that monkey, able to get ourselves into trouble yet, unwilling to let go of something in order to extricate ourselves from our dilemma. As a result we can’t move on with our lives. We can’t live life as it was intended by God. We compromise a healthy life, free of unhealthy restriction.
I think the writer of Hebrews addresses this sort of quandary in 11:1, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” As the verse says we have a cloud of witnesses, we have those that have gone on before us, who have led the way. We should be able to run as they have run…without getting ensnared. We should be encouraged by their previous victory. The main point is that we get so easily ensnared along our journey. We find enticements that lure us in. Before we know it we have our skinny little hands stuck in the mouth of a water bottle and we cannot move but in circles.
What are you hanging on to that will not allow you to move on in your walk with life? With your walk in the Lord? Maybe it is an object. Maybe it is a person. Maybe it is a sin that is holding you down. Maybe it is an incredibly painful memory that is inhibiting forward movement. This is not a chastisement to “get over it,” but an encouragement to get through it. I don’t mean to play that down, but you will never be able to run any sort of race dragging a heavy bottle at your side.
Sometimes we need to open up our hand and surrender the contents to the Lord’s care. Is it easy? No. Is it scary? You bet. But if you want to move forward, it is necessary. God does not want us hindered in any way. He is our biggest fan, and wants us to succeed.
Romans 8:15 “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” He doesn’t want us to be held captive to our past. Like a Father watching, helping His child ride a bike without training wheels, like a Father watching a child jump off the side of the pool into His arms, He wants to help you overcome fear of letting go.
With God’s help, open your hand, let go of the nut, and pull your arm out. It’s just not worth hanging on to.
Move away from the bottle and finish the race in style.