Several years ago, when my mother-in-law was still alive and living in her home, Teresa and I would try to visit on a regular basis. On these visits we could not help but notice an old yellow dog chained to a stake in the neighbor’s backyard. The old boy did not look malnourished, he always appeared to have water, but he was an angry dog. Teresa and I both felt so sorry for the dog. Day and night he stayed chained to that stake, with a doghouse made from some unpainted plywood next to the stake, and a maple tree a few feet away to provide some shade in the summer and shelter in the winter, he was never free of that chain.
His owner wasn’t breaking any laws, but in my mind, he walked a narrow line (personally, I see no reason in having a dog if that is one's idea of having a pet). On each visit I considered calling the SPCA but what would I tell them that would change the fate of that old dog.
The dog had a vicious bark anytime someone other than his owner came near to him. There were times I would be out back, and I wanted to approach him hoping to comfort him in some way, but I could never get close enough to do so. He was just angry and agitated anytime I approached.
As I thought about his life of confinement, I suppose there was a sense of safety in his bonds. Truthfully, his enslavement and his master were the only things he knew of this world. He had learned to live with his chains and the changing seasons under the maple tree.
I think something similar happens to some in the world in which we live. I’ve seen such spiritual and mental enslavement in my many years of ministry, and frankly, I can think of seasons in my life when I too have felt the coldness of chains binding me, metaphorically of course.
There are times in life when trials and tribulations have us so tied up inwardly that we lash out at all who approach seeking to help free us. Perhaps we rail against such individuals because the idea of someone coming near is a belief that the one approaching brings only more pain and sorrow into our lives. Yet, like that old dog, maybe it is that we have just become comfortable in a state of bondage, and we believe life will never be better than it is presently.
Throughout my pastoral ministry, and even in my ministry with Christ-Centered Solutions now, I see individuals who are bound, enslaved in their sins, and unwilling to take the steps necessary to break free. Then there are others who walk into my office and realize they have believed the lies which have held them captive for years, but now they want nothing more than to be free. Isn’t that how we were before our conversion, that is, those of us who have surrendered to Christ?
In Romans 7:24 the Apostle Paul spoke of his own struggles by asking the question, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Then in verse 25 of chapter 7 and into chapter 8 he shares the solution to the bondage of sin and the lies she spins – it is in and through Christ Who frees the believer. I love his words in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” There is no judgment that can be brought against the one who is IN Christ, for He has set you free!
One of the greatest privileges as a pastor, and as a Biblical counselor is to share the Gospel of Christ with those who are lost and who then surrender to Him as Savior and Lord. The second greatest privilege is reminding believers their identity is in Christ, the One to whom they belong, and the One Who provides their freedom for all eternity.
I beg you to pray for CCS and me, I also beg you to pray about supporting the ministry of CCS on a monthly basis with an offering of any amount. Those who are in bondage need your help. Please visit www.christcenteredsolutions.org to make a tax deductible donation, to learn more about the ministry, or schedule an appointment.
P.S. On one of my last visits to my mothers-in-law’s home, and after her passing, I did call the SPCA, but to what good it did for the dog I couldn’t tell you.