Ruuun Wilber!

Ruuun Wilber!

Have you read “Charlotte’s Web” recently? While I can’t say I’ve read it all, at least not in the past 20 years or so, I did read a chapter to some small people a few weeks ago, and to my joy, it was one of the most exciting chapters of the book – the one where Wilber broke free.

This chapter was made to be read out loud as a bedtime story. There’s excitement and suspense, tension and elation, yelling and voices and it all ends with a whisper as the main character exhaustedly falling asleep. If you’re not familiar with this particular story or chapter, Charlotte’s Web is about a pig who meets a spider. But before this particular pig (Wilber) meets this particular spider (Charlotte) he experiences a few adventures on his own. The adventure I speak of is when the Goose (a well intentioned trouble maker) points out that there is a board just loose enough for him to slip out of his pen. At first Wilber is overjoyed at his newfound freedom. He leaps and he twirls. Jumps and runs and does somersaults. The air smells fresher, the grass is greener, and freedom is good. That is, until the farmer’s wife notices that the pig has escaped.

Suddenly, his freedom turns into a nightmare. People are closing in on him, the dog is growling, the other animals are all yelling different instructions as to what he should do. “Go left!”, moo-ed the Cow. “No, turn right!” baa-ed the Sheep, “Head to the woods, the woods, the woods!” ordered the Gander. In all the ruckus, the young little Wilber didn’t know what to do. What was once exciting and fun has gotten scary and overwhelming. Then, out of all of the chaos there was a calm voice that said, “Here pig.” It was the farmer, he was carrying a large pail full of warm slops. Wilber caught the smell as the farmer calmly turned away and walked towards the pen, saying again, “Here pig.” The animals in the barn yard warned loudly, “It’s a trap, don’t fall for it Wilber!” But poor little Wilber was tired and confused, he was scared of what might be in the woods and just wanted to eat and lay down for a nap in the sun on his pile of straw in the safety of his pen. So, he slowly followed the farmer and walked right back into his pen.

I’ve been thinking about this story since that night a few weeks ago when I read it. It

struck me so strong that sometimes I’m just like Wilber. I’ve been set free! But I don’t always know what to do with my freedom. There is a verse in Galatians (5:1) that says, “It is for freedom that you have been set free.” At first reading you might say, “Well, duh!” But the problem is that so often we respond to our freedom just like Wilber did. At first the freedom was exciting and fun, but then that quickly wears off and we realize that while we were trapped in our pen, we were also well provided for, and safe. Or at least that’s how it seemed.

Sure, Wilber had all of his needs met: Warm slops morning and night, fresh hay, safety, baths, and company. But his food was provided to fatten him up to be slaughtered, the fresh hay and baths were to keep him healthy for the same purpose, the safety was only momentary, and the company was simply that of the other captives.

Captivity can seem appealing and freedom intimidating, but in the end which one is really the better option? Galatians 5:1 goes on to say, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Freedom can be hard work, but we’ve been set free – ransomed at a high, costly price. We shouldn’t be so easily enticed back into our pen by the promise of warm slops and some hay in the sun. But aren’t we at times? I know I am.

I was listening to a song that says, “Tomorrow’s freedom is today’s surrender.” Being and remaining free often requires some effort on our part. We have to consciously turn down tantalizing offers of our perceived needs being met in the moment. Work to avoid those around us, corralling back towards our pens. In order to truly experience our freedom, we need to be willing to give up some of our creature comforts. But really, all that takes is a little perspective. Our captivity may offer us some nice features, but in reality, it’s literally a pigsty.