(This was inspired by some observations I made of other people, but as I read it again it rings just as true for myself and my family. No offense or judgement intended!)
I’ve seen the way your children walk. Stiff, awkward. As if they’re afraid to miss a step or move outside of the cage they’ve been taught to live in. Like animals who’ve been raised in captivity: their cage has become their comfort and their curse. I am convinced that the wilderness still excites them. When they smell the fresh air and see the wide open fields or big blooming jungles; I’m certain their hearts skip a beat. Their imaginations start to spark as they see other animals running wild and free. Their physical bodies miss the sunlight and movement; the challenge of trying new things and discovering that they’re capable of so much more than they (or you) ever thought possible.
The cage, that cursed cage, is tricky.
It hasn’t been all bad, you see. The cage offers comfort, protection, a familiar environment. There is food, shelter, even games to play for entertainment. They can easily live the whole of their lives in captivity and not notice the lack (if they’ve been sheltered enough)… or maybe get so good at ignoring it, that the feeling disappears completely. I know the feeling as a deep, underlying drone of sadness and frustration. It goes on and on and never stops and eventually it’s familiarity makes it almost unrecognizable, or worse… ‘normal’.
And that cage, that cursed cage, is tricky.
Because you never meant to harm them. You only wanted to protect them and keep them safe from the dangers of the wild. I mean come on, it’s called “wilderness”… a place that’s uncultivated, uninhabitable. You’ve experienced life in captivity and you know it works, look at you! You’re healthy and safe, some might even say stable and down-to-earth. It’s only logical that your kids should stay there too. There are too many unknowns out there… where will they find food and shelter? How will they stand up to other wild animals? No, no, no. Freedom has become synonymous with fear… fear makes your decisions for you now. And you’ve done your part on educating your children in that school of fear. “Out there” is dangerous; “in here” is safe. Unknown is risky, so better stick with what’s familiar.
We all know what it’s like to watch someone stumbling over their feet as they try to dance. You’ve tasted the food of someone who is (oblivious to the fact that they’re) not gifted in cooking. You’ve heard the screech of an unskilled voice that is trying with all their might to reach that right note...
We’ve also seen the beauty of paint on canvas, a masterpiece created by an artist. You’ve ridden in a well-built train that was designed by the genius engineer who knew exactly how things needed to fit together. We can learn many skills, but there is a great difference between a skill that’s been learned and an inborn gift. You can sense the flow, ease, comfort of a person who is doing what they were created to do, be it singing, sewing, dancing, designing… you can revel in their excellence. We often say, “they make it look so easy”, and in some way it is easy for them… because that’s what they were created for!
I believe that awkward, stiff posture of your children is a sign that they are not living life according to their talents. They’ve been gifted with (inclined to, excellent at, proficient in) freedom. They were not built for a cage. They can manage in one, yes, but they will never reach their full potential, find full joy and truly live, until they are free. I know that you love them in the way that you’ve learned love, but I want to challenge you to learn a new kind of love. Your fear of what “could happen” is more dangerous than any harm that might overcome them. Roughly said: it’s better to die free than to live dull in captivity.
I know that you might feel powerless to change. Maybe you feel unable to take control over your fears, to move in a new direction. But He has come to set the captives free. You are His target area. He wants to get rid of that cursed cage and let you and your children taste the pleasure of freedom. Listen and see if you can hear… is there a drone of sadness in your ears?
“Wake up, wake up!
You’ve been sleeping for too long!
All of these fears, they are silencing your song.
Wake up, wake up!
Don’t close your eyes and turn away.
The light of the dawn is signalling it’s time for change…
Don’t stay the old way."
I’ve come to believe that all mankind has been gifted with freedom, and if we don’t use it, we’re going to live awkward and stiff lives, marked by the underlying drone of sadness and frustration.
Unfortunately I can lead you only this far and no further, because the coming journey is new also to me. I’ve become aware that I was made for freedom and not captivity. I’ve heard His voice calling me out. I am unsettled in my cage and have even explored the wilderness many times. I’ve felt the rush of the wind and the beat of my heart as I discovered new abilities I never knew I had. But still I seem to return to my half-broken cage, sadly finding comfort in the bars and confinement…. nonetheless I hear Him continually calling…
“Speak up, speak up!
Your words create your destiny.
Say what you think and let the others be free to dislike you if they want to.
Sing out, sing out!
The world is waiting for your song.
Light up the way, and let the eager come along to discover their hidden treasure.
For light has come,
so stand up and run in wide open spaces!
Come now listen here, just say no to fear…
do you hear what I’m saying?”