We’ve all seen monkeys. We see them in zoos, but they live in the wild in Central America, South America, Africa and Asia. There is no known estimate of how many millions monkeys are alive today, but there are over 600 species of monkeys.
As cute as monkeys seem, they can be incredible pests. Farmers in areas where monkeys live try to capture and kill as many as they can because monkeys will ruin crops and eat their food. If you’re in parts of India, you have to be careful eating your food in a public park because Macaque monkeys will swoop down out of the trees and swipe your picnic in an instant. Some cultures actually consider monkey meat a delicacy. Some black markets will pay over $100 for a monkey for its meat.
But there’s just one problem for the hunters: how do you catch a monkey? If you want it alive for a zoo or to ship somewhere for it’s meat, how do you catch it? Monkeys are quick, agile, and in the wild they live in trees that can stretch a hundred feet or more off the ground. So how do you catch a monkey? (The answer is the same way we as humans allow ourselves to be trapped.)
Farmers and hunters in third-world countries have been capturing monkeys for centuries. If you want to catch a monkey, you have to trap it. Here’s how: A farmer or hunter will take a gourd, or they’ll cut a small hole into a termite mound if they’re in Africa. The small hole they cut will be just big enough for the monkey to fit their hand through. Inside the gourd or the jar they’ll put nuts or sweets, something the monkey craves.
Then they wait. Sooner or later a monkey will come by and smell the nuts, and they’ll want it. They’ll put their hand through the hole, grab a fistful of nuts, and then they’ll try to pull their hand back out. But they can’t. The hole is small enough to put their empty hand through, but not big enough for a hand clutching a fistful of nuts. They’re stuck.
Now, at this point, the monkey should realize, “Hey, I’m stuck, drop the nuts.” But they don’t. They want the nuts. They don’t want to surrender the nuts. So they pull and pull and pull, refusing to drop the nuts, and the hunter or farmer comes up behind and snatches them.
If they just surrendered what they were holding on to, they could have been free. But because they refused to surrender, they lost their ultimate freedom.
Now, come on, that will preach. What is it that you’re holding onto that’s keeping you from freedom? What is it that if you would just surrender you would experience true freedom? It’s not just addictions. It may be something good that God is asking you to give up to gain something greater.
It may be work. Work’s not a bad thing, is it? We’re created to work. God put humanity on the earth to take dominion. But what happens when we begin to derive all of our identity from our work? What if work becomes so all consuming because we know that we need that next promotion, that next sale, that next paycheck, that our relationships begin to suffer because we’re not able to let go of work when we walk through the front door?
It may be family. Now we all know that family isn’t a bad thing, but what happens when you fall into the mindset that you need to a perfect mom or a perfect dad? What happens when your desire to never let a flaw show, to only highlight (especially through social media) just how perfect your family is, becomes a prison that robs you of the joy that only comes through transparency and brokenness?
Making money isn’t a bad thing. It’s how we eat, it’s how we survive. But this is one of the easiest ones things to imprison us. Why does the Bible call the love of money a root of all kinds of evil? Because in reality we only need a little money to live. But when are we ever satisfied with a little money? We don’t want a little money. We want a little more money. And that desire is something that can become a prison to us that can absolutely destroy everything beautiful around us.
What is it that you’re holding onto too tightly that’s become a prison to you? What is God calling you to let go of and surrender so that you can be free?