“Trapped” lobster buoys in Stonington, Maine
These lobster buoys appear trapped and remind us that, at some point, most of us hit the proverbial wall from which there is no apparent exit, no obvious way back or forward. We long for the apparent unobtainable. Sometimes that is reality, but often it’s perception that ensnares us. We may believe ourselves captive to the helplessness and hopelessness of poverty, lack of education, abuse, addiction, financial distress, hatred, prejudice and bias, injustice, failure, or the consequences of bad decisions and behaviors or moral failures, or some ethical dilemma. We may be trapped in painful, dysfunctional bodies or caught up in a world-view that lacks meaning and promises only a “dead end” ahead.
However, our biggest dilemma is spiritual and universal. We are all imprisioned or enslaved by our natural inclinations and desires which are not always pure or good and which result in selfish behaviors that range from rude to abhorrent. We have no capability or possibility of transformation without help.
Failing the ultimate ethic of loving God and our neighbors as we should become the basis for the Biblical doctrines of sin, of spiritual deadness and lostness, and of our need for redemption. Lostness is all inclusive. Nobody escapes it. We need a rescuer, a redeemer, an advocate to extract us and to reconcile us to Holy God. That is why God gave us Christ, who through his purity and righteousness could pay for our sin. In his humanity, he experienced life’s struggles, its sadness, pain, and temptations, yet he did so with joy and purpose and has a unique empathy for our weaknesses and needs. Christ does not condemn but empowers. So, then we can “with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16) He bids us, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)
Christ is for us, not against us. Once he said, “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.” (Luke 4:16-19 (NLT2) He also said that he had come “to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 9:10) And he promised that those who believed in him would “not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 11:25)
We do not have to live entrapped by bitterness, anger, depression and hopelessness. Faith brings meaning and hope and frees us from anxious living, self loathing, fear of dying and eternal condemnation. We can live forever free… He said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)
One of God’s names is Jehovah-Jireh, our Provider. He is the ultimate source of wholeness and joy and all that is good and meaningful. He is faithful, trustworthy and the One in whom we can be confident, the God of hope. (Romans 15:13) We are never outside of his deep love and care for us.
His grace lifts us up and forward.