Hazel the Dog is the youngest member of our family. Our niece rescued her about three years ago, and as best we can tell, she had somehow gotten separated from her mother and her litter. So one Sunday afternoon, my husband and son drove to Mississippi to bring Hazel home to live with us in Alabama. I loved her as soon as I saw her. In fact, in the three years since Hazel joined our family, she and I have become so attached to each other that sometimes I worry that we’re too close.
I mean, is it normal to tell your dog what you’re planning to cook for supper? Or to ask your dog if your necklace looks okay with your shirt? So Hazel and me, we’re tight. But thanks to the abandonment Hazel experienced when she was a puppy, she has off-the-charts separation anxiety. If she hears me pick up my keys, she panics. If she sees us put on our shoes, she panics. And if I get home from work and don’t immediately change clothes, she panics, because clearly that means I’m leaving again.
As you can imagine, Hazel panics a good bit. A few nights ago Hazel and I were snuggling on the sofa because, well, that is what we do on most nights (please don’t judge me). I was lying on my side with one arm underneath Hazel’s head and the other arm draped across her tummy. I thought she was perfectly comfortable, but after a few minutes I looked at her face and realized that she was darting her eyes all around the room.
Since I like to think I can read Hazel’s mind, I decided that she felt like she was trapped. So I very slowly moved the arm that was underneath her head, and I moved my other arm as well. I expected that she would jump up and run, but instead she stayed still as a stone—just as if she were still pinned in by my arms. I thought she might need some encouragement. “Hazel,” I said. “You’re free, and you don’t even know it!” And then the truth of what I’d said hit me like a ton of bricks.
Because—Yes, that could be said of so many of us! Or maybe I should say it this way: We know we’re free in Christ. But sometimes we sure don’t live like it. Listen. I don’t know your life history. I don’t know what mistakes you’ve made, what decisions you regret, what parts of your life you wish you’d done differently.
But here’s what I do know: if you have identified with the gospel and surrendered your life to Jesus, YOU ARE FREE. If you’ve confessed your sin, Jesus has covered it. MOVE ON, sweet friend. I mean, I love my Hazel and all, but I’m not interested in following her example. Because it seems pretty obvious that we’re not going to gain a whole lot of gospel ground with other people if we lie around acting trapped and scared when we’re actually oh-so-free.
Throw off the chains. Live the life the Lord has called you to live. He is your freedom. Thanks be to God.