What cell holds you captive?
Sometimes you read a story and it is forever etched on your memory.
I shared the following story with some friends not long ago, and I thought my readers might appreciate it, too.
Once upon a time there was a king whose brother tried to assassinate him. The attempt was unsuccessful and the king’s brother was captured. His punishment was to spend the rest of his days in a cell by the sea.
This cell possessed an unusual quality, though. The cell had an opening, but no door to close it off.
You see, the king’s brother was a very large man, quite fond of food. He was told if he could lose enough weight to fit through the door, then he would be free.
However, every day the king’s servants would bring the brother platters of delectable food.
He could eat to his heart’s content.
And that’s just what he did.
And he died in that cell looking out over the sea with the fresh breeze blowing in his face… just like the king knew he would.
I ask again, what is your cell? Because it may not be food that holds you captive, but we all have habits or hang-ups in our lives that prevent us from enjoying life the way we were created to enjoy it.
Could it be desire for success, alcohol, perfectionism, past mistakes, image management, pride, pornography, fear of failure? The list here could be quite long.
I read a blog post once written by a woman confined to her home due to a chronic health condition. She wanted to remind herself to be joyful by writing something on her bedroom wall. She thought about writing the word joy, but instead she wrote the word “choose.” Because the thing is, joy is available to all of us regardless of our circumstances. What separates us from one another is our ability to CHOOSE joy.
At the end of Joshua’s life (the man who led the Israelites in their battles to make the promised land their home) he called them all together and challenged them to choose that very day whom they would serve. Would it be the God that led them out of Egypt, or the gods surrounding them in their new land? The people insisted they would follow God.
Just a couple of chapters later in the book of Judges we discover the people had already fallen away from following the one true God. Wow, that didn’t take long.
Yet, when I look at my own life, I can see similar patterns: great determination in the beginning to make the right choices, and then a few chapters in things begin to fall apart.
That’s why mercy is so important. Because we strive, and we fail, then hopefully we pick ourselves up again and choose to do better.
What choice will you make for your life today? Don’t just watch the waves from a distance. Make the choice to jump into the water with both feet. With reckless abandon enjoy the sun on your skin, the wind in your hair, and the salt water stinging your eyes. It won’t all be comfortable, but living life engaged sure beats the alternative. Seize the joy.
Note: I originally read about the king’s brother in Steven James’ book Story.
Picture without words found on Stock Exchange.