originally written for ASHM 2009

Recently, I heard a Pastor tell a story about a trap to catch monkeys.  The trapper took a gourd, put in a banana, and then cut a slit in the side of the gourd.  The slit was big enough for the monkey to turn its hand sideways and slip it in to grasp the banana.  Once the banana was in the monkey’s fist the monkey was stuck.  The monkey could struggle and struggle to keep the banana and try to pull its hand free, but the only way for the monkey to get free was to let go of the banana.

As I sat there listening to this story I was reminded of a time when I refused to let go of an item and I ended up a captive of that item.  For a number of years I was a chain smoker; I smoked about two packs a day.  I constantly had a cigarette grasped in my fingers.  When I got married my husband made me promise that I would not smoke in our apartment.  I think he figured that if I had to go outside in the frigid North Carolina air, to smoke, that I would probably quit.

I got an electric blanket.

There was nothing that was going to stand between me and my cigarette grasped in my fingers.

I realized that I had a serious addiction to Nicotine; I tried to quit many times.  I’d struggle and struggle not to light up a cigarette whenever I got an urge, but I always failed.  I was trapped by my smoking habit; I was the cigarette’s captive.  My refusal to let go of the cigarettes was keeping me trapped in the addiction.

Then one day I was forced to let go.  For about at week I’d been scraping up pennies to buy my last few packs of cigarettes before my husband’s pay day.  Three days before he got paid he called me to tell me that he had no money to buy me cigarettes.  I’d literally used every cent we had for my habit.  I had no choice.  I had to let go.

I went through all the ashtrays and even our garbage looking for a cigarette butt.  Nothing.  My withdrawal from Nicotine was not a pretty sight.  My husband would attest that those three days were the most miserable of his entire life.  However, for me those days were a blessing.  Once I was forced to let go, I knew that I never wanted to be struggling in that trap ever again.

It’s been twenty-four (updated for 2023) years since I quit smoking.  Praise the Lord!

How often do we spend our lives with our fingers grasping the item (e.g. anger, unforgiveness, self-condemnation, alcohol, drugs, etc.) and remain captive to that item?  Jesus came to set the captives free (Isaiah 46 & Galatians 5).  Let go of whatever item you are grasping, slide your hand out of the gourd, and grab on to Jesus.  Grasp His hand and walk away from your captivity.

Your freedom.    That is why He died on the cross.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.
The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)

Until next time blessings and healing

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