Good morning faculty and staff,
There is a story I remember from childhood. Perhaps it was in a book I checked out of the library or a maybe a fable my mother read from her head, I can no longer remember. But the core of the story concerned a zookeeper who wanted to catch a monkey, a jar containing a treat and a curious little primate who wouldn’t let go.
As I remember it, the zookeeper set a trap, using a narrow necked jar with the monkey’s favorite fruit inside. It didn’t take long at all for the curious little monkey to come upon the jar that was strangely tied to a tree. Upon seeing his favorite fruit inside the little primate stuck his hand in the jar in order to grab ahold of what he wanted. Wrapping his little monkey fist around the goods he then went to pull his hand free and found he could not. With the goods in hand his fist was simply too large to get past the narrow opening of the jar. Pull and pull the monkey did, but he simply couldn’t get free.
Unwilling to let go of the fruit, his little monkey first remained stuck in the jar that was attached to a rope that was tied to a tree. And after a bit the zoo-keeper simply untied the rope from the tree and led the little monkey to the zoo with his little monkey fist still tightly wrapped around what he simply wouldn’t let go.
Now even as small child I remember thinking how foolish the monkey was. He could have been free to live in his jungle paradise if he would have simply let go. But instead his unwillingness to release what he wanted left him forever trapped behind the bars of a cage. As a child the solution seemed so simple, just let go. But as an adult I now know how difficult it is to release things and how easy it is to become imprisoned by the things we won’t let go.
Now, I believe the intended moral of the story is about desire and greed and how they can lead to our own destruction. And certainly the consumerism and materialism we live in often leads to debts that won’t let go of us, debts we can’t get rid of because we want as much of our favorite fruit as we can get ahold of. But as I sit with people and hear their stories I must tell you this it is not only the debts that we owe that make us feel trapped. We are often also trapped by the debts we won’t forgive.
More and more I find that what so often leads us away from the paradise God intended for us is an unwillingness to let go of a grudge, an inability let loose our bitterness or a refusal to forgive a debt that is owed to us. Feeling like we are exercising our freedom to have what we want and thinking that by hanging on to the wound that we’ve “won” the battle we simply allow ourselves to be led like little monkeys into a place that is simply not freedom. A place that certainly looks nothing like the paradise God designed for the people God loved.
As we come to the Lord’s Table this morning and as we together take the bread and drink the cup, may we remember the forgiveness that we have so graciously received and the merciful canceling of debts that we have rightly owed, and n response may we find ourselves releasing our grip on that thing we have simply not been able to let go. May we together, “get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. And instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven us (Eph 4:32-32) And as we follow Jesus in his forgiving may we find ourselves released from the cages that have kept us prisoners and may we together walk towards the freedom God intended for all people.
Let it go,