In Jules Verne’s novel, The Mysterious Island, five men escape a Civil War prison camp by hijacking a hot-air balloon. As the balloon rises into the air, they realize the wind is carrying them over the ocean. As they watched their homeland disappear on the horizon, they wondered how long the balloon would stay aloft, as they had no way to heat the air in the balloon.
As the hours passed and the heated air in the balloon began to cool, the ocean began to draw closer and closer. The men decide they need to cast overboard some weight in order to gain altitude. Shoes, overcoats, and weapons were reluctantly discarded, and the uncomfortable aviators felt the balloon rise. But the rise was only temporary as they soon found themselves descending dangerously close to the ocean once again. Deciding it would be better to be hungry than drown on a full belly, they discarded all their food supplies. Unfortunately, that too, was only a temporary fix as they once again found themselves perilously close to the water.
Then one of the men had an idea: they could tie the ropes that held the passenger basket in such a way as to sit on them and cut away the basket. Severing the very thing that they had been standing in, they watched it drop into the ocean and felt the balloon rise. That decision paid dividends as they spotted land before the balloon descended into the water. Eager to stand on solid ground again, they jump into the water and swim to the island. They lived only because they were able to discern the difference between what was really needed and what was not. The necessities they once thought they couldn’t live without were the very weights that almost cost them their lives.
Though speaking about a race instead of a balloon escape, the writer of Hebrews applies the same principle to the Christian life: “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” (12:1). Until we let go of the things we deem necessary and the things the world has to offer, we can’t experience the true freedom that Christ brings and fulfill the purpose in life that God intended for us. What is it that is hindering you from that goal?
To His glory,