While walking one morning, I turned to look toward the sound of a barking dog and saw the strangest sight. Multiple boards were missing in the fence surrounding his yard. It would have been so easy for him to step through the big gaps to freedom. Instead, he only poked his head out to bark. Granted, the reason for his confinement probably had something to do with an underground fence and shock collar. However, that scene held a message.
Do we not often times live out that scene in our lives? As Christians, God sent His son Jesus to die on a cross to give us freedom. We are no longer slaves to our old life, past sins and failures. We are free to live a new, exceedingly abundant life in Christ. Why then do we choose to remain in self-enforced captivity when freedom is already ours through Christ?
Allow me to offer one possible answer to this question—FEAR. We stay behind the open fence boards and do not venture out because of multiple reasons all related to fear.
Let me give you just a few examples. Satan delights in replaying moments of failure and mistakes in our minds in high definition with the details appearing more vivid and shameful than they were in the actual moment. We accept Satan’s lies about our incompetence and remain on the sidelines of life, fearing our history will repeat itself.
Perhaps we are afraid that we don’t have as much to offer the world as those we see beyond the fence. We are not as educated, as attractive, as well dressed, or capable as are those walking by. Our self esteem is extremely low. We wonder who would even notice or acknowledge us. We’ve tried repeatedly to “get in the game”, and the rejections, which become the realities by which we define ourselves, are too painful to face yet again. It seems best to simply accept our deficits and not venture out.
Then finally, there is the fear that we will never be “good” enough for God to fully love and use us in His Kingdom. We know in our heads what the Bible says about God’s unfailing, unconditional love for us, but the truth of that has not successfully taken up residence our hearts. That truth seems to work for everyone else but not us. We feel we will never deserve all that Jesus died to give us because we have disappointed God so many times that surely He has given up on us. And since that skewed reality breaks our heart, we keep it shielded and a bit hardened as a protective mechanism. How then can His truths easily take root and become our truths when they are sown on a hardened heart?
This is the challenge. We, and I include myself, must refuse to accept these lies as our truths. Jeremiah 29:11 clearly states that God has a plan to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us a hope and a future. That is God’s plan for everyone, not everyone except you! Through Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins and His resurrection God has thrown the gate wide open to freedom from captivity and these unfounded fears in our lives. With God at your side, you can face whatever life beyond our self imposed confinement holds and claim the future and blessings that He has planned for you. Take that first step through the open fence boards and remember you are not alone! To God Be the Glory!