The slave’s miniscule boat sat atop the miniscus of water, oscillating slightly from the pull of the cataract’s rush ahead. Peering over the edge of the boat, the smooth lines of clear liquid powered toward their destiny.
He knew why he was still there. His master wanted to reach down and give him a little push, but he was waiting for his permission - a strange happening in natural circumstances. Slaves awaited orders; they didn’t have a choice. This one did.
He knew that the way down would cause him to be thrown out of the boat. He would be shot in and out of gushing funnels of strength. Then his meager body would slap onto the foaming, whirling, swirling eruptions of water below. The torrents would punch him, kick him, spew him from side to side. He might sink to the depths and never resurface.
The man was a slave. He had voluntarily sold himself into the service of his new master. The only thing the master had required of him, before the contract was signed, had been his sin. He had given it gladly. In exchange, he received the master’s family name, and he bore it proudly. His back no longer bent over, weighed down with burdens of his history; he walked tall.
Now the master had informed him of this unusual ritual. Some of the former slaves of the house had escaped the slavery they signed up for to become friends of the master.
“Don’t be afraid,” they had said. “Once you surrender there is no turning back, but you will finally be completely free from the cares of the world.” This would be his escape, his release.
Yet here he wobbled. Here he wavered.
His old friends kept showing up at the door of his new home. They were mad at him for selling himself into slavery. The voices were all too familiar.
“Come back, leave this new life. You had good times with us. You had control… you were free with us.” He could not explain this rite of passage: this choice of blind trust in the master, or why it was necessary; there was no way they could comprehend it.
The boat continued to rock gently. His hands gripped the coarse wooden edges all the more as demons kept playing with his mind.
Angels on assignment walked across the water to his side and drew their swords. The demons shrank back, leaving his mind free for just a moment. It was long enough.
A surge of courage coursed through his chest. Standing up in his chariot pod, raising his fist, face to the master above, he yelled,
“I CHOOSE FREEDOM!”
And God’s hand raced through heaven’s walls, through the cloudy sky, through the air to lift up the end of the boat and push him up and over and past the fringes of his past life toward the eddies that swirled below.
Even before his body hit the torrent, that same hand reached out again. His landing was cushioned. An inner tranquility filled him from the topmost hair of his head to the lowest round curves of his toes. He did not notice, but his garb had changed to that resembling his master’s. He was no longer a slave.
A sigh of contentment escaped his lips as he exhaled once again. “Freedom,” he whispered.
His escape … was complete.
When you obey me, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father and remain in his love…. You are my friends if you obey me. I no longer call you servants… (John 15:10-15, NLT)
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