I read a story about a little boy who was walking with his father on a beautiful evening in their neighborhood. They walked past a house where there was a man sitting in his rocking chair with his dog lying by his feet. This dog was the kind of dog who felt so entitled and so complacent. He always thought that everything will be done for him, and so he was complacent and didn’t have to worry about anything. But as they walked past the dog, the little boy heard the dog moaning and groaning. And so out of curiosity he asked “Sir, what is wrong with your dog?”
The owner looked at the boy and responded “Oh, it’s okay. He’s just sitting on a nail.” The boy became a little flustered and so asked his dad “Dad, why is he letting the dog just sit on the nail?” The owner of the dog said to the boy “Oh, that’s easy. It is not hurting enough for him to get off.” Woow!! To what extent does it have to hurt to make you get off the nail on which you sit? Yes, you also may be complaining, moaning and groaning about a nail. That nail has been sapping all your energy, eating you up, tearing you apart, creating doubts in your mind and giving you sleepless nights. For whatever reason you can’t get up. Your vision has been clogged to such an extent that you only see your limitations.
How can you get up? How do you pull the nails out? In fact, how do you promise yourself that you will and deserve to live victoriously? I think one of the important lessons of our Christian faith is the gift of victory. Not the kind of victory that smacks of triumphalism but one that understands victory as a gift made possible through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. St. Paul emphasizes this point when he says “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Recognizing this victory as a gift, our appropriate response is not one of pride but of thankfulness and a gratitude that fills us with pride. The kind of pride that gets you up from the nails upon which you sit because you recognize that God made you for something-to live victoriously.
St. Paul also says elsewhere that we battle not with flesh and blood but with principalities and powers. Unfortunately, this battle is played out in our minds and our hearts, and that is where we are either victorious or not, that is where we feel so shattered and dispirited enough to sit on nails moaning and groaning thinking that that alone will cause a change in our circumstance.
When do you plan to get up from those nails? Why are you still sitting on those nails? What are you wrestling with that you cannot quite put your finger on? I can go on and on with additional questions, but I know you understand my point. Often times it becomes impossible to name those nails and you feel like being in shackles. To live victoriously then is to redefine ourselves by breaking free, waking up, dusting ourselves and learning how to walk again.
My prayer for you this day is that you may recognize the amazing gift of victory that God has given you and give thanks. There’s a story of a man who heard the cries of a frightened little daughter who was being chased by a bee. He run out, wrapped his arms around the little girl and after a time let her go. He said to her, ‘you need not worry anymore, the bee has stung me. Bees don’t stung twice.’ Thank God that bees don’t sting twice and that you have been offered an amazing victory. A victory that makes it possible for you to live victoriously.
In response to our victory therefore, we are encouraged to give ourselves, talents and treasure in service to God and neighbor. And we do this with the awareness that giving ourselves fully to the work of the Lord is never in vain. Even more, being aware of ourselves elicits a great depth of generosity for all things victorious.
My hope is that we would all rise from whichever nails we may be sitting on just so we can live victoriously.