articlesqa February 01, 2018 orange crocodiles and bat caves
Ifeoluwapo Eleyinafe Article by Ifeoluwapo EleyinafeCreator and author of

Where are you right now as you read these words? Are you sit­ting on a train? Are you walk­ing home in the peace of sum­mer wind or in the drench­ing tor­ren­tial rain? But these are phys­i­cal lo­ca­tions. Where are you in life? Where is your heart? Does your mind ex­plore these words while your heart gen­tly sor­rows? To­day we are speak­ing about pris­ons and caves and these things may not be ap­plic­a­ble to­day but keep in mind them for to­mor­row. For to­mor­row you may find your­self trapped in the suf­fo­cat­ing dark like many do to­day. It might be an ad­dic­tion or love of mon­ey. It may be a bad re­la­tion­ship. Some peo­ple be­gin by try­ing to tol­er­ate their prison. Some try to think their way out of it by plan­ning their es­cape like a char­ac­ter on prison break. If they es­cape, they leave the prison to dis­cov­er that the world out­side is it­self a prison. It is im­pos­si­ble to be free of the dev­il by the pow­er of the dev­il Matthew 12:24. And so many of us are mere­ly trav­el­ing from prison to prison. We ex­change one ad­dic­tion for an­oth­er. On overeater be­comes a cig­a­r­rette smok­er. A porn ad­dict be­comes a thrill seek­er. Is there a way out?

Or­ange in the dark

Let me in­tro­duce you to a species of dwarf croc­o­dile in Gabon known as Os­te­o­lae­mus tetraspis. Image Source: Now to west­ern ears, this African name can be hard to pro­nounce. So let’s call him Gol­lum for dwarf ... I mean for short. Now Gol­lum is small­er than his broth­er croc­o­diles but this is not real­ly a prob­lem. His small size makes him nim­ble and able fit be­tween the tiny crevices that lead into caves. Now in these cave, he learns to feast on ap­par­ent­ly juicy bats. Gol­lum is young and strong and able to get into any cave he wants. He eats and eats and eats. But Gol­lum doesn’t no­tice that as he crawls and chas­es the bats, his skin re­acts with the bat poop so that it turns more and more or­ange. He doesn’t no­tice, as he gorges on bat, that he is get­ting big­ger and big­ger till even­tu­al­ly he is trapped and can no longer es­cape the cave or move to an­oth­er.

For­tu­nate­ly, Gol­lum has a younger friend named Tetra who hears him scream­ing and shout­ing at the mouth of the cave, “Can any­one hear me!” Tetra thinks and bril­liant­ly asks him to stick his tail through the open­ing. Tetra then be­gins to pull with all of her strength try­ing to yank him out of the cave. But she can’t. Gol­lum is just too big. Only his tail can taste the air of free­dom. He is too big and can­not fit. He can’t es­cape. Tetra de­spairs. Noth­ing she does will work. And so she goes away and reads Eph­esians, a let­ter writ­ten by one pris­on­er to oth­er pris­on­ers. When she gets to chap­ter 4, she can­not get past verse 1. “I there­fore, a pris­on­er for the Lord, urge you to walk in a man­ner wor­thy of the call­ing to which you have been called,”

Here we have a man Paul who is urg­ing peo­ple to walk as he has walked. And yet, it is clear that his walk lead him into a Ro­man prison. So how can any pris­on­er urge oth­ers to fol­low him into prison?! She does not see how this verse will help her friend Gol­lum. So she thinks and prays a lit­tle more and re­al­izes that some­thing about Paul must be dif­fer­ent. While oth­ers are wise­ly? busy try­ing to es­cape from prison and dif­fi­cul­ty, Paul is fer­vent­ly urg­ing oth­ers to walk like him into prison. Is he a dev­il of a man? Is he mis­er­able and just wants com­pa­ny? But the Holy Spir­it helps her to think an­oth­er thought. Free­dom is not found by es­cap­ing prison. Free­dom is only found by those who choose the right prison. She ex­trap­o­lates (cause you know African croc­o­diles are good at math), that she should stop try­ing to help Gol­lum es­cape. In­stead, she should help Gol­lum be­come free by help­ing him find the right prison.

A Pris­on­er Of Christ

Paul, a man full of spir­i­tu­al gifts, a well trained law­yer, talked his way into a Ro­man prison Acts 26:31-32. Who had so cap­tured Paul that de­spite the urg­ing of his friends, he de­sired to go to prison Acts 21:9-14? Paul re­veals his Cap­tor in Eph­esians 4:8. “This is why it says: ‘When he as­cend­ed on high, he took many cap­tives and gave gifts to his peo­ple.‘” Paul’s Cap­tor, The War­den of his prison is dif­fer­ent. Earth­ly war­dens take every­thing away from you. Je­sus, our War­den, gives us gifts. In earth­ly prison’s you ex­pe­ri­ence hell while cap­tives of Je­sus Christ ex­pe­ri­ence heav­en even while on earth. Earth­ly cap­tives have been locked away be­cause of the evil they did. Je­sus Locks us in His Em­brace so that we may be free of all bit­ter­ness and rage and free to be kind, lov­ing and com­pas­sion­ate Eph­esians 4:31-32.

There­fore, the book of Eph­esians, is writ­ten by a pris­on­er of Christ who be­came a pris­on­er for Christ. It is clear then that the prison de­pends not on the walls and bars but upon the na­ture of the man with­in them. Paul’s na­ture had been so changed that prison was no longer to be feared. Like his Lord, he was nim­ble enough to go in and find pas­tureJohn 10:9. And so for the rest of his let­ter, Paul re­minds the Eph­esians of their na­ture as pris­on­ers of Christ and fer­vent­ly urges his broth­ers and sis­ters to stop eat­ing bats. Walk, live, think in the man­ner wor­thy of the call­ing to which you have been called.

And so I sup­pose this is the an­swer Tetra took back to Gol­lum. “Stop eat­ing bats.” So ob­vi­ous yet so pro­found. If he stops eat­ing the bats, if he re­lin­quish­es his ap­petite for bats, then he will lose weight and be able to find his way out of the cave. So also for you and for me. Like Gol­lum, We find our­selves trapped in earth­ly pris­ons be­cause we are un­will­ing to stop eat­ing bats; un­will­ing to stop com­mit­ting sin. So long as we are un­will­ing to be­come and re­main cap­tives of Je­sus Christ, then we shall re­main cap­tives of the dev­il in the world. Let us then be­lieve in Je­sus and be­gin to obey Him. Let us sur­ren­der to Him and be­come His cap­tives so that we might be free in­deed. Only the cap­tive of the Son is set free.

But you may say to me, “Life is not as sim­ple as it is for Gol­lum”. This is true. Per­haps there are con­se­quences and scars from the many pris­ons you have tra­versed. It is true that even if you leave the cave, you may re­main crip­pled. Per­haps you are in prison, in debt and the law man­dates that you pay back what you owe. Well Eph­esians 4:1 also in­structs you in free­dom. Re­mem­ber al­ways that the prison is not the walls or the amount of mon­ey or the body you have dam­aged. The prison is you. The prison is your na­ture. The mo­ment you al­low Je­sus to change you, the walls and bars be­come trans­formed into a home. Hence Paul was glad to go to prison. He knew that his Lord was there. For is that not what Je­sus did? Did He not, like his fa­ther king David, in­vite crip­ples and en­e­mies to eat at His Table 2 Samuel 9:7,10-13, Psalms 23:5? Did He not come down to trans­form and teach men so that their bod­ies be­come tem­ples for God; so that their pris­ons could be­come eter­nal­ly com­fort­ing homes?

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“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” - Colossians 2:3