When the Knot Gets Too Tight

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36

The other day I tossed some clothes into the dryer. Shortly afterwards I heard disturbing thumps coming from the laundry room. It sounded as if a shoe was in the dryer. I rushed over to stop the dryer, only to discover that the clothes had become twisted in a knot. This problem would definitely not fix itself. It would merely get worse, and the clothes would get wrinkled and stretched out of shape. Nothing would work except stopping the dryer and pulling apart the matted lump. Only then could the garments breathe again and dry properly.

This episode reminds me of our spiritual habits and traditions. They can get knotted up too. They can restrict us into such a tight knot that, if we keep going, we merely get more wrinkly and hard. It is time for a fresh start.

Perhaps this is why we have seasons when we must step aside from our normal religious routines and practices. It's a time to disentangle. This may involve times of solitude - to reflect and to seek God for ourselves. We then become spiritually and emotionally refreshed. We get freed up to breathe the fresh new air of God’s Spirit.

Jesus came in a day when the knots in the religious system had become so tight that there was no room for God’s Spirit to breathe. The leaders tried hard to preserve the “right” way, but their rules merely got more and more rigid. Their laws and traditions exerted such a strangling grip that the people could not live simply by trusting God. It became difficult to act freely and spontaneously out of love.

This problem has beset the Christian church since its birth. You may have experienced that “strangling” grip yourself. Certainly many have abandoned the church because of this. However, secular society has not managed to evade the same problem. We are now submerged in more laws than ever. Yet we haven’t become a more law-abiding society. That’s because civil regulations cannot change the human disposition. The abundance of laws merely put people in a tightening knot; and we actually become less free to act out of goodness and trust. In fact, that ability becomes lost to society.

Only a miracle can release us from those strangling knots! That’s why the Gospel of Jesus Christ is such refreshing good news. Through Christ’s gift of salvation, the Spirit is given to us – to loosen us from the knots and to blow fresh new air into our lives. It’s an exhilarating freedom to live again - like laundry flapping freely in the breeze on a balmy day.

Of course church folk have fretted over the possible abuses of such freedom, and have been rather quick to revive a dependency on laws and rules. But remember, just as the clothes are firmly fastened down by clothespins, so also will God hold us fast in his love. As we trust that love to anchor us – then we can freely blow in the Wind.

Prayer: Lord, I invite you to “stop the dryer” as needed, that I may be set free again to blow in the wind of your Spirit.

Diane Eaton
Kincardine, Ontario, Canada

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