I love this story that author and executive coach Bobb Biehl tells about a day he spent working at the circus.
During one of the breaks, I started chatting with a man who trains animals for Hollywood movies. “How is it that you can stake down a ten-ton elephant with the same small stake that you use for this little fellow?” I asked.
“It’s easy. …When they are babies, we stake them down. They try to tug away from the stake maybe ten thousand times before they realize that they can’t possibly get away.” ¹
The trainer continues to explain that as the elephants grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.
That’s amazing. These powerful creatures are made powerless by believing something that simply is not true. Lies are flimsy and pointless until one thing happens: we believe them. And then we give them the power to shape our lives, hold us back, keep us down.
Thank God, Jesus always tells us the truth.
And His truth sets us free.
Jesus was, among so many other things, the strongest and most unbound person to ever walk the earth. Nothing kept Him down. This earth had no hold on Him, society held no sway for Him, worries had no grip on Him, even death could not get the best of Him. He was strong in Himself, confident in God, and free to live and love.
And the great thing is He spent His time and spends it today freeing people to be like Him. Like the elephants held back by a thin rope and a small stake, we need someone to tell us the truth. Someone to pull up the stake and dangle it in front of us and say, “This can’t hold you anymore. You’re stronger than this. Now go live the life I have for you.” That’s what Jesus loves to do. Following Jesus means being unbound, it means freedom from lies, it means power to live.
What lies have you been listening to, giving them the power to keep you pinned?
¹ Though I’ve heard and read this illustration often since, I first encountered this powerful word picture on page 2 of Biehl’s book, Masterplanning. It continues to move me.