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Chain Letter

It took me a long time to learn that everybody carries a boatload of stuff around with them, and most of it isn’t pretty.

I was not very worldly or sophisticated when I went off to college. If I’d come from some little cow town, it wouldn’t have been so humiliating, but I grew up in a big city! Not that it made a lick of difference – I really didn’t know very much about life. The first year I was away at college, I met people who had troubles I didn’t even know a person could have. Troubles that made my “burdens” seem like fluff. Happy problem to have, actually, and I’m grateful my problems were mostly in the annoyance category.

I learned a little bit, from the people I met in college, about empathizing with others. I learned a little bit more when I began working at my vocation as an engineer. I learned more when I married, and oh, boy, did I learn when the kids came along. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but now when I meet someone, I find myself looking and listening to discover their back story, wanting to know about the chains they’ve carried. There was a time I couldn’t understand, and there was a time I didn’t want to. But that’s changed, for the most part. I find myself wanting to come along side and understand why they are the way they are. Why they do the things they do, even when it gives them no joy.

On rare occasion, you will meet someone who has realized that the chains most of us carry are not locked. They’re just dangling free, and for no reason at all, other than habit, perhaps, we continue to haul them around. We profess that salvation comes from faith in Jesus, but it’s kind of hard to tell if we really believe it or not from the way most of us act. Whatever was, is, or will be needed to free us from the things that bind us, Jesus already took care. Done. Over. Finished. Jailhouse doors are swinging in the breeze, chains are laying on the floor, loose. All you have to do is restrain yourself from picking them up again before you walk away. Too radical a message for most of us!

Chain Letter

Preached at Mt. Comfort Presbyterian Church on 20 May 2012. My friend, Colin Pritchard, wrote an awesome song about this passage.

(The file is a Windows Media Audio file – if you have problems, right click and download the file to listen.)

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