A squirrel fell down the chimney into the fireplace a few months ago. After flinging himself repeatedly against the glass doors he hunched, weary and hopeless, beside the grate. After a few days we put a live trap in there with him. His ticket to freedom sat there, baited with peanut butter, but he refused to enter. He tried every way he could to get the food without going into the trap, but refused to do what it would take to satisfy his hunger. Instead he waited, day after day, peering forlornly into the room.
Faith can look like a trap to us too. How reluctant we are to give up control and submit ourselves to the only One who can truly set us free! Instead we fling ourselves against the hard walls of pride and independence looking for any way – or any other way, if we’re honest – to freedom.
“Come to me”, Jesus said, “all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
How we need that rest! But the price is surrender. We don’t realize the rough, heavy yoke already on our shoulders, so disdainful are we of the light one He offers. So we peer into the room, bitter that life does not submit to our will.
Sadly, the squirrel fought off all of our efforts to rescue him and missed his chance at freedom. It is hard – so very hard – to humble ourselves. At its essence faith is a practice in humility, a final letting go of our lives to follow the good Shepherd. So many of us try to keep our pride and control, and tack on some religion to cover our bases. But that is a deception that keeps us trapped in the fireplace. The only way to green pastures and still waters is to allow our Shepherd to carry us there.