The idea of slavery in the 21st century seems absurd, yet every minute of every day of every week of every year…we are slaves–to something/somebody. Bob Dylan set the record straight in one of the most profound gospel/rock songs ever written in my lifetime, and won a Grammy for it. No matter who you are, what you’ve done, or where you think you’re going–you’ve gotta’ serve somebody. For the sake of my illustration, you’re tethered to somebody. (If you don’t have time to read the middle of this message, skip to the last two paragraphs.)
I have a group of friends who I have coffee with regularly. It is mostly made up of elderly gentleman and me–they’re all retired, like 20 years ago! P is a retired principal/music teacher, who still teaches private lessons on the side, he’s been active in the community, served on city council and parks and recreation–we rib him about his retirement package; T has also been very involved in the community, he worked as a lab tech and eventually, out of necessity, became an entrepreneur, developing a line of medical books and selling them. Based on his car he did okay with that profession; G is retired Navy who specialized in photography, has worked in the film industry, did story boards for movies, learned to paint and was the one who taught me how to use my oil paints, he also drove school bus; D served in the Navy as well and then went into forestry work and later drove school bus before he completely retired; Then there’s J who shows up once in a while. He too was a businessman. He owned the best Irish, fast food joint in the area. Sadly, it was closed for the sake of ‘progress’ and a road will soon run through it.
I met G and D when they’d be sitting in the coffee shop having a break between hauling kids around in their buses. They both seemed like crotchety old men–and they are. I’ve often wondered how I would have handled them as my bus driver when I was a child–but that’s a whole different story. You might say I was not a model child on the school bus. Eventually, we became acquainted (I was painting a mural on a building across the street and would go in the coffee shop to warm up and take a break, they’d ask me how it was going, blah, blah, blah.). Maybe because we saw each other almost every day or maybe because I quit my faux/mural business and started working in my studio, therefore not rushing out to get on a job, we all began to sit at the same table. Me, a ‘younger woman’ and the ‘old guys.’ Every once in a while the coffee shop owner will join us, another woman who is my age, but this is our core group. If I had not grown up with three brothers in a neighborhood full of boys–it was often me and 5-10 boys–then gone on to raise three boys and a girl, who was like me, a tomboy, this might seem odd. Actually, it’s very natural, where I fit in–mostly.
These guys have become my ‘mentors’ of sorts, each bringing something different to the table. I run my business plan by them, they critique, put me in my place or give me other ideas from their experience–if only they were more tech savvy. Sometimes they hold me accountable and say, ‘Get to work Kara.’ But mostly, we solve world problems. We really only have one liberal in the group so that makes problem solving much easier. He holds his banner high and takes it like a man. I remember the first time I tentatively threw something into the conversation about God. I don’t remember the conversation exactly but I do remember learning who stood where on the subject–we’re pretty much split in the middle. Every once in a while, to explain what ‘filters’ my ‘world view’ on a matter–God–we get off on religion(s) and what God has to do with anything. This is intriguing to me. I’ve mainly been around people who at least believe in God.
After one recent, very stimulating conversation, I went home wondering what in the world just happened and how can we be so far apart in a matter? I’ve thought about it a lot since and this morning as I read Jesus’ words, “He has anointed Me to proclaim liberty to the captives…” (Luke 4:18), it hit me–we are all tethered to something, slaves to it, held captive, serving it and its purposes. It doesn’t matter if we believe in God or not, we can all be just as unyielding as the other, therefore, chained to our selves, our laws, our logic, our reasoning, our ability to solve world problems. Again, for the sake of my illustration–I’ve been very guilty of standing firm in my beliefs, unyielding so to speak, and been just as wrong as the guy who proclaims God doesn’t exist or God doesn’t care about this matter, or I hate God because…in fact, I’ve been so unyielding that I didn’t know what to do when someone came along with a question that went against my firmly held beliefs. I especially didn’t know what to do if they brought something straight from the Bible in full context. I’d try and answer, I’d say ‘ya but’ a lot, say things like, “I think it means this ____,” but all in all feel blown by every wind of doctrine, confused. I didn’t know what to do with the pure doctrine of the cross and Christ alone. I was finally brought to my knees, crashed at the foot of the cross and had to decide to stay firmly attached to my self, or tether myself to the cross and the freedom it would bring. When I look back at it, I was afraid of heights, of freedom, of not being firmly grounded and unmoving, I trusted my self. I was a slave, serving my own selfish ideas of who God was, all the while never really trusting Him with my life. Never really saved by, held by the cross. It came down to this–I didn’t trust Jesus completely.
I was no different than my unbelieving friends. It all boils down to trust and relationship. Now, I love my freedom, leaning into the arms of the cross while yielding to the Holy Spirit who provides me with unseen guidance. Winds of doctrine can no longer ground me because I’m held steady by the cross. Whether you proclaim to believe or whether you are a skeptic it will all come back to the cross some day. The question is–WHO will you tether your life to? (I’m excited about taking this question to my friends–pray for me.)