Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Burning off the Ropes That Bind

During the first episode of Survivor China, I was faced with a spiritual dilemma in a Buddhist Temple. The producers told us that it was a welcome ceremony, not a worship service, but at the end of the ceremony they had the entire cast bow down in front of a statue of Buddha. I was unable to do this because of my convictions so I respectfully walked out of the ceremony.

As a result, my Christianity was front and center. The host, Jeff Probst, asked me why I left the ceremony. I told him I was not a religious person, but I had a relationship with Jesus Christ and the only time I was going to put my face on the floor was for Him. This stirred up some serious controversy to say the least!

When I came back from China, many people said they thought of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and the way they did not bow down to the King’s statue in Daniel chapter three when they saw the scene in episode one. Sure, I was faced with the same choice, but I did not have a flaming fiery furnace as a penalty for not bowing down! I’m grateful for that. I suppose I was put through a fire of sorts, as I dealt with criticism and persecution as a result of my choice, but it was nowhere near the fire those Hebrew boys were put through.

I was reading Beth Moore’s study on Daniel a few months after my return from China and while studying the chapter of the fiery furnace, she noted how the ropes that bound them were the only things burnt off in their experience in the furnace. She then said “If you’ve been through a fiery trial in your life, what ropes have been burned off of you that have been binding you?”

What a great question! I was blown away by it because even though I never thought of it that way, I actually did have some "ropes" burned away that were binding me in my life as a result of that moment in my life.

First of all, my fear of people's opinions has diminished a lot. I have always struggled with being a people pleaser and it's funny, because one of the scriptures I felt I needed to memorize prior to going on Survivor was Galatians 1:10 that says, "Obviously, I'm not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant". I never understood why I felt the strong need to memorize that scripture until I found myself standing outside of the temple. It brought me such comfort as I initially agonized over whether or not I offended anyone in the ceremony. I realized that all that mattered at that point was that I had done the right thing for God, no matter what anyone else thought.

As time has passed since that first episode, I have had tremendous support and encouragement from so many folks - both Christian and non-Christian, who respect that I was true to myself and to God. But there has also been tremendous back-lash from people who do not understand what I did, and even hatred that I have never in my life been exposed to! That hatred was the fire that has burned my ropes as I realize that it doesn't matter if those people feel the way they feel - I know in my heart that I did the
right thing.

So, yes, the ropes have been burned. Thank God I didn't have to go through a real "fiery furnace"! But being under-fire (so to speak) has really taught me a lot and I can honestly say that I'm glad for it. I have grown so much in my faith and the scripture I keep thinking of that gives me peace now was said by Joseph to his brothers after they had abandoned him and he confronted them years later: "You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good." (Genesis 50:20).

What ropes has the Lord burned off of you through difficulties?


1 comment:

Misheck Mlambo said...

Thanks for the article Les, loved it

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