When I envision a crack, I think of the Zoo Keeper’s wife, Antonina Zabinski, who with her husband Jan, poured her life’s work into their zoo in Warsaw, Poland. During the Nazi occupation, Lutz Heck, the top-ranking zoologist and an officer for Hitler, visited their Zoo in a façade of goodwill, and took rare animals in an attempt to re-create extinct breeds to build up enough for Nazi hunting parties. He then hosted a New Year’s Eve shooting party at their zoo. With deep sadness Antonina and Jan buried their beloved animals. That evening at sunset two hawks and an eagle circled above their garden. Their cage had been cracked open by bullets and they had flown free. However, they didn’t want to leave the only home they knew and the ones they trusted. They flew down and landed on Antonina’s porch, where she fed them.
Sometimes a crack can open a cage and set a prisoner free, but after being confined for so long, prisoners don’t know how to navigate freedom, and they have to learn to trust all over again.
I wonder if that’s what’s happening to us during Covid-19? For so long we have lived with certain patterns to our day, and with confident expectations. Maybe our freedom was defined by being able to meet with friends and family, schoolmates and co-workers whenever we wanted. Or perhaps our comforts consisted of travelling, whether a short trip to a Provincial campground or as far away as another country. We have defined freedom by luxury within gilded bars. Even Christians, though we sincerely trusted in the Lord and found joy and peace in Him, have been shaken. Our carefully constructed cage of comforts has cracked wide open. We weren’t expecting it. We were enjoying our short little flights inside our cage. We trusted the Lord because He brought everything to our doorstep and provided for us. Then suddenly a whole new world opened up. Would we fly and leave the cramped confines of little faith?
Freedom has taken on a new definition. No longer does it mean leaving footprints at every retail location or laughing together over a meal with friends. No, now our freedom is internal instead of external.
After the Apostle Paul describes the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22, he gives us this timely insight: “Against such things there is no law.” Right now there are laws against getting too close, against using playgrounds, and going to school. Against hugging and working elbow-to-elbow. Against using cash. And watch out if you cough or sneeze in public! We feel strangled, but the Spirit of the Living God is not caged-in, but rather indwells us. There is no law against love – we can and have found creative ways to love each other. A knock on our door revealed a care package from our Youth Pastor and his family – taco chips with homemade fruit salsa, and an encouraging note. People are calling or Zooming, Face timing or Skyping their loved ones more now than ever.
There is no law against joy. In fact, Paul commands us to rejoice and to count it all joy when we encounter trials of diverse kinds (James 1:2). I think losing a job, and being separated from loved ones counts as a diverse kind of trial, don’t you? We are instructed to be joyful because trials will increase our endurance. To be joyful takes concentration some days. It doesn’t come pouring into my heart at all moments. I have to intentionally search for it. But joy takes the wheel when I focus on the big picture; when I look down the road a ways I see a stronger me. That makes me joyful, to think that I will be more like Jesus, and more ready to stand in His presence someday. I’m enduring this small cross and rejoicing, because of the joy waiting around the corner. “For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross,” (Hebrews 12:2b).
There is no law against peace. I can go to my Father in Heaven at any moment and cast my care upon Him (1Pe 5:7). He offers to share the yoke of stress with me and in exchange gives me peace. I don’t have to wait in line outside on a cold windy day for His peace. I don’t have to wear a mask to approach Him. I don’t have to fear being arrested and fined for walking boldly into His throne room. I fly in, without an appointment, skid to a stop and fall down at His feet. I can even cough, sneeze, and rub my eyes and He won’t report me. The only requirement is that I come in the name of Jesus His Son, the One who gave His life for me – Jesus – the One who gave up His freedom and be bound so that we could be free.
Will I fly? I still hesitate. I still want my cage the way it was. My nest was comfy. Everything was predictable. My simple normal life has been cracked open. My routines have been stripped away. I don’t know what the future holds. But I would be crazy not to fly. I’ve been invited to ascend like an eagle into lapis lazuli skies of joy, dive into deep pools of peace, and glide with grace and love.
Someday I will need strong wings. I will need endurance to keep going when dark clouds obscure Heaven’s shore. I want a wingspan that stretches wide with love, joy, and peace. I’d better step off my perch and start practicing.
By Pamela Mytroen