A few months ago, we had a situation with one of our cats, Peanut. To this day we have no idea how she got herself into this specific predicament. She found her way under one of our recliner chairs and got her foot and leg stuck. Really stuck. Like, would not even budge kind of stuck!
We didn't know anything was the matter until one of our other cats, Itty Bitty (who we call Bitty for short) started acting very strangely. Bitty isn't a super vocal cat, yet on this particular night she would not calm down for anything and was constantly meowing. My husband heard Peanut meowing and didn't really think too much of it except that between the two cats, the meowing was amping up in volume. Soon he goes to check on them (I had just gone to bed) and realizes the predicament that Peanut is in. He comes and grabs me and we proceed to figure out how to get Peanut free.
This was a lot easier said than done. As I mentioned, she was VERY stuck. In hindsight, I think the chair had been reclined and as she threaded her way under the chair, it un-reclined on her foot. No matter what we could come up with, there was a significant risk of her breaking her foot. On top of this, Peanut, at the time, wasn't the most friendly of cats. We had just gotten her but it was apparent that she hadn't been socialized with humans. So as we reached under the chair to try and stabilize her and keep her from twisting her leg any further as she thrashed about, she would bite us... HARD! I walked away with a very large bruise that took weeks to go away because of her bite. The thing is, we wanted her to be free every bit as much as she wanted to be free.
In the midst of us trying to free Peanut, we have Itty Bitty frantically trying to figure out how to free Peanut as well. She'd look under the chair, then attempt to go in, then she'd circle the chair, all while meowing frantically. In kitty language, she'd say the same thing as I was, "I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO!" The funny part was that we had locked Bitty away in a room with a closet door as the door (the room doesn't have a real door but a folding one). She escaped three times because she was so determined to help her little friend.
Eventually, Peanut would get herself free. She'd wiggle just perfectly and soon she was running away to lick her wounds. She walked away with only a sprain, miraculously.
Sometimes freedom is a process. Sometimes we bite the hand that's trying to set us free. Sometimes the process to set us free means that we are going to feel a bit of pain.
One of my favorite stories about freedom is when God hears Israel's groaning because of their slavery and He's moved to help (Exodus 2:23). I've mentioned this story multiple times because it so resonates with my own soul. We see this collective groaning from God's people and He takes notice. Not only does He take notice, but his feet are moved to action. God tells Moses in Exodus 3:8, that He's come down to deliver them out of the hands of the Egyptians. His heart is moved with compassion and His feet are moved with action.
What I love about this story is that it sort of gives us a backstage view of John 3:16. Instead of being a slave to a king somewhere, we find humanity still a slave to sin, but suffering under the weight of the law. We had lived a few thousand years with animal sacrifices and God decides to send the Perfect Lamb to be the Perfect and Last Sacrifice for all of us. That Perfect Lamb and Sacrifice was Jesus. God was so moved by His love for us to set us free that he gave us the solution through the sacrifice of His Son.
Related: I Hear You
Notice Galatians 5:1 says "don't let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery." He's warning us to not step back into the trap of sin. It would be silly for our cat to try to thread her way under the same recliner only to risk feeling the enormous pain she had just been freed from. It would be silly to risk her being stuck, longing for freedom. You know what traps us? Our sin. Once the Israelites had been led out of Egypt and into the desert for forty years, you know what the number one struggle they had was? They longed to return to slavery. They believed the lie that slavery was better than freedom. We believe the lie that sin (for whatever reason) is worth it. Maybe we look at our "fruit" and deem that it's pleasing to the eye and is good for us, but sin only leads towards slavery and destruction.
Instead of giving into the lie, stand in the freedom that Jesus bought for us. Enjoy this precious gift that was bought with His very life.