Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Man of Chains

My son has a book wish list. It comes home in folder orange and backpack blue. I read it. We choose two books out of nine. One of them is "Ripley's Believe It or Not! Curioddities." Can't go wrong with Ripley's freaky fascinating facts. (I'm just as eager to read it as he is!)

Only a few pages in and my jaw drops. It's a drawing of an Indian holy man called the "man of chains." When Ripley met him in India in 1924 the chains weighed 670 lbs. and he had worn them for 13 years.

Yes, that's right folks, 13 years! 

Here's a drawing of the man:

My initial reaction is shock, followed by sadness. Did no one tell him of Christ's atonement? Did a believer never speak grace into his weary soul? Maybe his stubborn heart was not receptive; his hearing deafened by dumbbells. 

Why 670 lbs. and not 671? What was his reasoning?

So many questions...

His visible chains are obvious. But what about those who live amongst us carrying invisible yokes? Yokes of perfectionism? idolatry? legalism? Not just non-Christians, but Christians, too. Some of us still carry invisible chains from unresolved wounds from childhood, from a spouse who left us for another, from a loved one who abused us. We never shed tears or pour out our hearts to a loving God because we don't trust His love for us. Instead, we stand silent, proud and stalwart, carrying our burdens ourselves.

I know, because I have.

Sisters, we are all broken. But like soil under lacquered nails, we hide it well.

But do we? Our wounds manifest and repeat themselves in destructive ways no matter how many masks we wear trying to pretend otherwise. Maybe we're workaholics; compulsive eaters; sex addicts; addicted to alcohol or other drugs; shopaholics; or have compulsions to control, please or rescue others. Maybe we can't control our anger, critical tongue or sense of worthlessness. Maybe we choose the wrong man time and time again. Maybe we escape or numb out absorbing hours of TV. Maybe we mistake busyness for godliness. Maybe we avoid being alone and need constant crowds or noise to distract us from His gentle voice whispering "be still".

We try to self medicate when Jesus is the only true salve for our wounds.

What are your dumbbells?

Do you realize God sees no shame when He looks at you through Jesus' eyes? He sees you and me whole, perfect and beautiful. His restoring hand wants to help us view ourselves this way, also.

Admitting our brokenness is the first step toward healing. Many of us do anything we can to hide it instead, which leads to compulsive behavior. Or we try to earn our own salvation by good works or intense sacrifice and pain, like wearing 670 lbs. of chains for years on end. But we can't earn grace no matter how hard we try. It's a gift we either accept or reject.

If Jesus isn't everything in our heart, we will try everything to fill that void of emptiness. Beth Moore says in her Bible study Breaking Free: "A Christian is held captive by anything that hinders the abundant and effective Spirit-filled life God planned for her."

Lets rid ourselves of every sin that so easily entangles us. Before we know it links build a chain of bondage that weigh us down like the "man of chains." Lets shine the light of truth on secrets, sin and denial. Let's trade our yoke for His: "For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light." Matthew 11:30. Let the shame of our brokenness lead us to the foot of the cross where no ones brokenness is worse than another. We all are equally marred. Let His shed blood cover each shard. Then let us rise, victorious, leaving every chain and link behind!

Do you trust Jesus can break every chain and foothold in your life? An even better questions is: are you willing to let Him?
Click to hear song: 

"He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom to the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners." Isaiah 61:1

"Finally, I confessed all my sins to You and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, 'I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.' And You forgave me! All my guilt is gone." Psalm 32:5

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1

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