As we embark on day 7346134574568721rd514 of quarantine, it’s time for us to have a halftime pep talk — a rally from the coach, if you will. For me it’s easy to sit in sorrow, depression and frustration during the first half of this social isolation, especially when it feels like things will never get back to normal. It can feel like we’re down 60-0 at the half. But I want us to understand how rich this time is and how we can possibly turn the game around in the second half. There are opportunities for us to be free while stuck in this drywalled cage of living.
The Elephant Rope
Have you ever heard the story of “The Elephant Rope”? The story goes like this...A man was walking through an elephant camp, he noticed that the elephants were fastened with a small rope that was tied around their ankle. He questioned why the elephants didn’t break the rope, since they were totally strong enough to do so.
In the story, the man asked their keeper why the elephants didn’t try to break free, and the keeper said that they use the same size rope for baby elephants all the way up to adulthood. Because they’re too small when they’re babies to break free from the rope, they grow up thinking the rope can still hold them, so they don’t try to oppose it.
Like these baby elephants, many of us feel bound by something. We feel tethered to a rope that’s been there our whole life or maybe for the past seven weeks. The rope could be our insecurity or it could be the fact that we’re locked in our house. Either way, we need to understand that when we grow freedom is possible. We can “break free” from that rope that isn’t as strong anymore. In our current situation, it allows us to turn our quarantine into an opportunity.
Here are three things we need to see as opportunities both in life and while on lock down.
1. Your Ground Matters
Do you know what it means to cultivate a field? Cultivation is when you step into the field and assess the ground. From there you prepare the ground for crops to be planted. It requires turning up rocks and soil, pulling weeds and digging up thorns. If the ground isn’t ready, your crop is going to have a hard time growing.
If you really want to break free from that rope that you’ve been tied to, then you need to cultivate your ground. Assess your heart — what are the things that tend to hold you down? How do you view yourself? Do you think too little or too highly of yourself? Are you constantly living in fear? Do you have past regrets that have just taken over your ground like a thorn patch?
This is the hardest part of growth in my opinion. It requires you to do a lot of manual labor and is painful; it’s uncomfortable and will make you want to quit. But you can’t. You have to do what’s necessary to get that ground ready for growth, to plant a crop that you’ll be able to reap a fruitful profit from. So the first way you can be set on the path of becoming free while in quarantine, is to get your ground ready.
“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. 4 As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. 5 Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. 6 But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. 8 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! 9 Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” - Matthew 13:3-9 NLT
2. Relationships Matter
Time and time again I have to remind myself of this: relationships matter. It’s not that I don’t believe it; it’s just that I live in my head so much that I forget the opportunities around me.
Every morning, I do my best to wake up between 5:30 and 6:30 to spend time in the Word. From there I’ll write a blog post, podcast episode or song. I feel that this is a beautiful time for me to grow in my relationship with the Lord. Then around 8-8:15 I hear little footsteps running up the stairs to my studio. I would be lying to you if I told you that often I get frustrated when I hear them. Here’s why…
I get so caught up in me that I don’t see that life is about we.
Those little guys come up to my studio because they love me and want to be near me. It’s the same reason I come up — because I love the Lord and want to be with Him. Every chance I get to love, teach and encourage my boys should be a freeing opportunity for me. It should bring me as much joy as if I was kayaking in the beautiful Rocky Mountains admiring the character of God.
Also, my wife. The single most important person to me on the planet is Jerrica. If I’m too caught up in my work, my hobbies and my feelings to see that time with her is precious then I'm bound to that steel peg in the ground. Relationships matter and they start right in your house with your family.
Have a picnic in the front yard. Watch a movie together. Play a board game. It doesn’t matter, but if you truly want to be free then maybe don’t think only about yourself.
3. Your Influence Matters
Relationships matter even beyond our families. To piggyback off of that, I need to remind us that we have an opportunity to influence more than ever before. The fact that we have the internet has completely changed the way we interact with one another, some for good and some for bad. Let’s let our influence be for good.
If you’re a believer in Jesus, then this should be more of an opportunity than ever to live out the mission of God. We do that by simply loving on people. It doesn’t come with some agenda to shove Jesus down their throats, but with a love that makes no other sense than a sacrificial love that changes the world.
We also influence through our passions and our past. I write these blogs, have a podcast all because I want to help influence people to an authentic life where they don’t feel alone. I can do all of this from inside my home. While I need and would love to encourage and challenge people face-to-face, right now this is what’s required of me.
Do you have a past that's behind you? Are you farther down the road than maybe someone else? This is your opportunity to encourage them, to help them see that they aren't alone.
Maybe you have something you're passionate about that can help someone. Start a podcast. Share it on Facebook. Invite people to a zoom call to talk about it. Now isn’t the time to add negativity to the world; now is the time to overpower negativity in the world with good.
You are an influencer and you don’t have to be on a podcast, the TV or have 100,000 followers on Instagram to help others.
The Second Half
When you’ve gone out there and pulled the weeds and rocks in your field, when you’ve accepted that relationships matter and when you look for ways to be a positive influence in the world, I promise freedom will come.
I know you’re tired. I know that some days you feel like you’re defeated, but don’t give up. You have a purpose and we have a hope. No matter how bad things get, there’s always a chance to change the game. So get back on the field and break free from that bondage of a lopsided scoreboard and win this game. You can do it. You got this!