I don’t know if it’s true, but someone once told me that domesticated birds can be trained to sit by an open window—and not fly away. You put their perch next to an open window, but you tie one foot to the perch, so that when the bird attempts to fly out the window, it can’t. You do this for days and weeks, and before long the bird stops trying to fly out that window. It’s impossible. Eventually, you can untie the foot and the bird will sit by that open window and never try the “impossible.”
That reminds me of the circus elephant, trained to sit quietly with his foot chained to a stake in the ground. At first, the trainer chains the elephant’s leg to a stake driven deep into the ground: it’s impossible even for an elephant to yank it free. The beast tries of course, heaves on the spike, but to no avail. Once the elephant has learned that stakes are impossible to fight against, you can drive a little picket into the ground that a rabbit could probably pull out, and the elephant no longer even tries. He knows what he knows.
The Fourth of July always brings us hot dogs, parades and speeches about freedom. America is indeed the “land of the free,” and we ought to be proud of our liberty. But political liberty is not the same as spiritual freedom. You can have all the political liberty in the world, and still be a soul in chains. You can be like that bird by the window, that elephant tethered to a toothpick.
True freedom dawns when we recognize that the real bondage is deep within our hearts. Somehow we’ve been trained to sit still, not even to try the “impossible” anymore. It takes soul work, but God is in the business of freeing hearts. Now that’s a liberty worth celebrating.
Pass the mustard!