I hear talk about how Jesus will set us free. But I can’t really think of anyone who seems like they’ve risen above these earthly limits that we all suffer from. That one guy that I really thought had it figured out raised his voice at his wife over breakfast when I was at his house on Tuesday. If I don’t know any free people in the 3000-whatever people I know, what are the chances that bumbling, awkward, insecure ME will be set free? How on earth can I expect it to be me that gets this mythical gift- if it even exists.
So this got me thinking about freedom.
C.S. Lewis (in Mere Christianity) says that one of our duties as Christians is to set aside all those selfish desires that rush at us in the morning like wild animals, and set in their place God’s wishes for us. Would I be free if I broke off the chains of my all too visceral lusts and hungers and desires for safety and pleasure?
If I did that, if I lingered to help out the youth group instead of getting home to that TV program I like, or if when that sexual part of my brain wants a quick dose of lustful indulgence, I instead read some Bible, would I not be better in the end for it. . . Yet I want what I want now.
Parents may understand this better than I do- well of course they do. To them, Halloween means cavities in January. To the ten year old, Halloween is four hours of heaven. Give me candy! I want pop rocks and sour patch kids! And the parent cringes at the sugars mining away at my molars as I, the child sneak candy in my bed. The candy is a shiny lure, a hypnotic pendulum. The fish bites the bait. The hypnotist manipulates the hypnotized.
We are slaves to our desires! Those vicious, wild, rushing animals! And are they not the wild side of us? Isn’t it the fact that we choose to resist these instinctual desires that sets us apart from untamed animals? This makes us human. But then a step beyond that is what makes us Christians. We have a master who asks us to set aside our desires for his. He is asking to tame us. We have a shepherd that knows how to break us. Such a good type of broken. The type that rebuilds us as something better.
An unbroken, wild horse has no place carrying a soldier. A broken horse, one whose ‘will’ trustfully obeys the guiding reigns of his rider, can play a part in winning a battle much bigger than all his species could dream up. I want to be a broken horse, the powerful, stomping hooves taking my master forcefully to forefront battles where he can do his work. God, train me with Your hours of steady discipline so that I might be a substantial weight turning the scales in your battles.
But I also want to go off on my own and eat any hay and grains I please. I want to run in the fields all day, following sexy mares and exploring countrysides. And then I’ll die. My bones will be the passing novelty of curious boys and I’ll rot away and be forgotten. But if I invite being broken by someone with a bigger purpose, then he will use me as a powerful weapon in battles behind which he is the mastermind. Then I will die but my master will be proud of my devotion and will say, He was my good horse. And in that way I will last much longer in his mind than my body will last on this earth. He will brag to his men that I helped him rescue his compatriots, thwart those who wanted to capture and enslave his people. And I was totally devoted to him, trusted his reigns completely and went where he told me, trusting in him.
So will it ever happen? Will I ever be able to put my instincts under the will of my master? Will I be the one out of 3055 Christians I know that is freed from my own candy lusts? Maybe not in this world.
But maybe so. Maybe the broken horse is a sneaky breed, quietly running in the middle of the pack, subtly effecting the migration of the herd in a way nobody notices. The shapes of such sneaky tides are the annals of mens hearts.
And maybe, just maybe this turning starts in the morning when a herd of wild instincts rushes at me. I turn my eyes to my captain and say, lead me. May your reigns be my guide and may my hooves lead my herd to water. To that living water. We are a terribly thirsty breed.
Zechariah 10: 3