But now that we are no longer shackled to that domineering mate of sin, and out from under all those oppressive regulations and fine print, we are free to live a new life in the freedom of God. Romans 7:6 (MSG)
When my son was about eight years old, my husband and I, as well as our church, began encouraging him to be involved in mission work in some small way. With that in mind, we decided to take him for a visit to a church in Mexico which we had been supporting at the time. Being the precocious and very busy young man he was, I wondered how he would do with a van full of adults on a six hour trip. However, the elderly members of the church assured me that he would be fine and it would be a wonderful learning experience for our son.
We were a little more than halfway to our final destination and he was doing amazingly well. At this point, I resigned myself to the notion that I might have underestimated my child’s ability to handle a drive that may have become long and tedious considering his normal activity level.
Other than one small incident when he was thrashing and wiggling to find something under one of the van seats, he appeared content to sit, visit with our group, snack, and enjoy the view outside the windows.
About three quarters through the trip someone requested a “pit stop” at the next town. As requested, the driver gladly pulled into the nearest convenience store. My son was sitting in the seat behind me between two sweet sisters in our church. As the van stopped and all began to exit in an orderly fashion it became clear that one of the ladies next to my son could not move at all. Puzzled she began to tug and pull but was clearly stuck. At that point I could not help but notice the big grin on the face of my son. He was swelled up with pride. Upon closer examination we recognized the predicament she was in. Seems her shoes laces had been untied and retied in a different configuration. The inside laces of each shoe had been tied together in a knot. One of the outside shoe laces was tied to a three liter coke bottle and the other tied to the handle of a very overstuffed and heavy purse.
I really did not know if I should be annoyed or proud. As one of his Cub Scout den mothers, I knew we had been working on tying knots for several sessions and my son’s skills were obviously outstanding. Fortunately, the victim took it well and we all had a good laugh. Praise God for a fun loving group of Christians with a great sense of humor.
Many times I have reflected back on this scenario when my son had “tied up” this good Christian friend. And then, when reflecting a little more deeply, I’ve wondered about those times that my own actions, attitudes, or behaviors may have done the same thing by directly or indirectly keeping the ones I love emotionally or spiritually stuck, bound, or trapped.
For those times I offer this simple prayer:
Lord, I pray for forgiveness for the times I have knowingly or unknowingly discouraged a sweet brother and sister in Christ from experiencing your amazing promise of spiritual freedom by imposing my own version of oppressive regulations. My limited human self with all of my should and should not’s, ought to, and must’s can quickly dampen spirits not to mention rob others from the opportunity to share their God given gifts and talents. Also I pray that my heart and mind be open to any circumstance in which I may encourage those around me. My actions can help or can hinder my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ from experiencing the true and complete joy only our Lord God can provide.
God’s word is very clear about this matter.
So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault. You’re certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served for supper to wreck God’s work among you, are you? Romans 14: 19-20 (MSG)
So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you are already doing this: just keep on doing it. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (MSG)