Bread – Trapped

February 4, 2011


Readings for Friday, February 4, designated by the Book of Common Prayer: Isa. 50:1-11; Gal. 3:15-22; Mark 6:47-56; Psalms 40, 51, 54

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As I write this today, ice has been on the ground and the streets for three straight days, only to be followed by seven inches of snow during the night. Except for a brief outing yesterday where I managed to slide out of my garage to go to my office, I have been home. This morning, when I looked out over the scenery, it was heavenly, white fluffy gobs of snow clinging to the cars, the bushes, the roofs, the sidewalks, and the trees. A beautiful landscape which reminded me – that I was trapped.

The past four days have been a microcosm of what the world and life does to us. We have great plans, we have lofty desires, we have vistas of imaginings, we have horizons of hope – and then we look around at debts, things, relationships, business, obligations, and yes, the weather, and realize that we are trapped in a box and we can’t get out.

Throughout the ages man has responded to being trapped in any number of ways. One of the most common is to dive deeply into the depths of obsession, of addiction, to lose oneself in the lusts of the flesh. Another is to take oneself out of circulation, death by suicide being only one of the choices available for those who take this option. Another is to take one’s anger, one’s sense of being trapped, out on other people through rudeness, tongue lashing, hitting, beating, stealing, murder.

But there is another response, one which results in us being released from the box, being released from the prison of the world’s or our own making. David, author of the Psalms, is an example of such a response. In Psalm 40 from today’s readings, David shows that, even while he feels trapped, he knows that the solution is not in feeling sorry for himself, or engaging in carnal pleasures, or being mean spirited, or succumbing to addiction, but in recognizing that God is the solution and that the solution is already working to David’s good. See how David bookends this truth between his feeling of being trapped:

“I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Ps. 40:1-3a …troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me.” Ps. 40:11b-12 You are my help and deliverer; O my God, do not delay.” Ps. 40:17b

In another example of the same thing, Mark tells the history today of Jesus’ rescue of the disciples from the boat and then follows that narrative with the following statement: “They (the people) ran through that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard He was. And wherever He went … they placed the sick in the marketplaces…all who touched Him were healed.” Mk. 6:55-56.

Certainly a sick person feels trapped unless he or she has hope of delivery from their condition. Jesus provided that hope to these sick people, and they knew that they could be released from the prison that they were in by touching Him, by knowing Him.

Although not part of our reading today, I recall the time when Paul was trapped in prison and began to sing spiritual songs. Although he was held against his will behind a steel gate, he obviously did not think of himself as trapped. Neither did the sick people who sought the touch of Jesus. Neither did David although his “heart fail[ed]” at all of his sins.

Reading the Word of God today to us and reflecting upon the circumstances which bind me to the house today reminds me that, for Christians, being trapped is only a state of mind. It may be just a way we feel at the moment. The reality is that when we are set free from bondage by Jesus Christ, we are set free indeed. Paul knew it. The sick people knew it. David knew it.

Now all we need to do, trapped in whatever source of depression we have, is to remember it and, like David, bookend the truth on either side of our feelings. “He lifted me out of the slimy pit … [my feelings] … You [Jesus] are my help and deliverer.” Remember this and forget about being trapped, because you are not.

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