For those of you not up on ancient torture devices, the iron maiden (which was invented, not in the Dark Ages, but in the more ‘enlightened’ 17th century) was a hinged iron cage in the approximate shape of a human, with spikes along the bars, facing inwards. The torturee was placed inside, the ‘maiden’ was closed and locked, and the spikes began their work – pricking the skin and muscle enough to cause bleeding, but not killing. The torturee could, of course, make it worse by thrashing around, but the fit was usually snug enough that no one could actually kill themselves too soon.
Ugly, huh? And why am I bringing this up here, where I’m supposed to be talking about life in God?
I’m bringing it up because almost every one of us, at some time or another, has lived inside of one of these – spiritually or emotionally or maybe mentally. And ten times out of ten, it’s one we built and locked around us ourselves.
Ah, that makes you stop and think, doesn’t it?
No, I’m not accusing anyone of masochism. I’m talking about those protective defenses we erect around us as life wallops us.
We begin by placing iron bars around the injured part – our heart, for instance – but more hurt comes, so we add more bars, then we put a lock on.
At first, this cage allows us movement, so we feel totally safe. But whenever we get too close to the bars, we get hurt, so we reinforce the cage, trying to stop the pain.
Finally, after years of this, we are living inside a cage that is so constricting we can’t really live!
Oh, we’re not dead, we can still breathe; but that caged part of us, at least, is slowly bleeding to death. The cage we created for protection has become a prison from which we can’t escape. A prison which pricks us every time we move, thereby convincing us that any movement is bad, and draining a bit more life and strength out as well.
How do we get out of one of these self-inflicted torture devices?
Actually, how do we come to the point where we understand that it is a torture device and not a protection device? For that’s the first step – realizing that the thing created to save is harmful. Then we have to figure out how to get out of it without further harm.
I don’t know how people out there do it, but when you belong to God, He will not let you, His beloved child, continue to live in constriction and pain.
So He takes the lock off that cage, and He begins to show us who He is, to reveal His truth – about us, His love, His grace, etc, until we know Him enough to trust Him.
Then, He carefully opens the door, and He invites us out into freedom and the protection of His love.
And most of us grab the door and slam it shut again!
And He repeats the revealing of Himself to us, showing us in ways we can handle, how much He can be trusted to love and care for us. And He opens the door again.
Few of us walk out the instant the door is opened the first time, or even the second or third. And for some of us, He has to take the hinges off, so the door can never again be shut. (That’s really frightening! It’s trust Him or die! We think.)
Yet always, He is proving to us how much He can be trusted! Always He is protecting us with His own body – hung on a tree to scare off the tormenter. Always the infinite, omnipotent Creator of the universe is loving and unconditionally accepting us.
May you see His truth in ways that break the locks of the cages you’ve lived in until now.
May His love and acceptance become so real and true for you that no lie can stand against Him.
And may you live the abundant, victorious life Jesus bought for us on Calvary!
“Salvation is God’s way of making us real people.” Augustine