Sitting down on the grass at Centennial Park in Toronto my eyes leaped from the pages I was reading, to observe the commotion in front of me. A park maintenance personnel had just rescued a baby racoon from the garbage bin. I watched the cute little rodent take off like a rocket, and climbed up the tree like superman in action, rescued from bondage. When it settled, I could hear its whimpering at the top of the tree. Sometimes that’s what it feels like when we have been set free from bondages. I am reminded of Galatians 5:1-3 where Apostle Paul wrote, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Can you relate to ever being rescued from bondage?
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When 2020 started, I knew I wanted change. There was no way I wanted to bring doubt, anxiety, and uncertainty into what I perceived was going to be a marvellous year. I started out the year fasting. This time I was seriously wanting to break whatever issues I had: Attachment problems, Boundary problems, Trust issues, Relationship problems, Anxiety, Anger, Depression. They were all going to the altar and be surrendered for good. This can’t possibly be the life I have been so careful with. How does one experience turn my world into grim and turmoil? 21 days of fasting, and I felt stronger. Whilst I had asked for this man not to communicate with me, he could not help himself. But, I knew the fasting had done something, even if there was no visible signs. Mentally, I started to put things into perspective: This man was married. By February, I stopped talking to him for five days. I blocked him from every mode of correspondence. The truth is, I know that I still wanted to talk to him, and I was still looking for a text or email, all of which was a sign to me, he still loved me. The lie, my heart wanted to believe. When I made it to day five, I felt some accomplishment. The realization that I wasn’t going to die, if I stopped talking to him. Yet, the soul ties were not broken. I was still in love with him.
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When he left the country for good with his family, we were forced to take a good look at the 1.5 year relationship, and again asked, what did we want from each other. His responses were often ambivalent, saying much ado about nothing. Maybe it was God’s answer to my prayer. But it was when Covid-19 arrived that the relationship was placed on trial. Who would have thought someone like me would have gotten a threatening email and iMessage from someone’s wife to leave their husband alone? This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. You can be sure that I was baby Tim who needed to be rescued out of my bondage. I once again, blocked, deleted, and removed myself from certain social media sites. I was ashamed, fearful, anxiety-ridden, and depressed! These were NOT the fruits of the spirit Paul talked about in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” I could not sleep, I had no appetite, I was a zombie most days. But, as terrible as it was, I was bloody, raw, and rescued.
I ran so fast, into the word of God, into praying, into building a relationship with God; that I could see myself transformed before my own eyes. Superman had returned! I closed the door of sin and bondage, and whimpered, so God could embrace me in His loving arms. He did. And has continued to do so.
This is the story I never imagine would be mine; yes, because I have cautiously lived my version of what a perfect life should be. I made life a tangy lemon juice out of the lemons my parents gave me. And I had been proud of the level of control and calculation that I’ve put into it, until now. How did I place myself in such a mess? How could I have miscalculated my step? Regardless, it happened. And it happens to all of us, leaving us to run up the tree and whimper like baby Tim, because we know, it was Christ who sets us free.
The last part of the same verse (Galatians 5:3) says this, “now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up…” Why would this part of the verse even need to be there? And why would anyone who was rescued from bondage even want to go down that road again? Well, no sooner than the maintenance personnel left, did I see baby Tim running back to the same damn bin! I watched him lift the cover and insert his round hairy body under the lid, and used his feet to hold himself up. Did he leave something behind? A piece of his breakfast that he wasn’t done eating before he was rescued? Luckily, he didn’t fall in this time. Passersby scared him away, and back up the tree he went. I’m sure he won’t stay there. He’ll later visit other bins. Our habits are just that. It takes more than one mission to be fully rescued from bondage, and to break our habits.
It’s been over three months since I have been sober from that painful relationship, and I do not wish to go back to my bondage. I intend to be obedient to the scripture’s caution: make sure you stay free and not get tied up again. I know that I can’t do this on my own, but I do know the One that can help me. For this reason, Christ died: “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). I am no longer ashamed, depressed, fearful or anxious, because I have been made free.