Below, is a message from my friend Matt!
I have always been a church going person; emphasis on CHURCH GOING. I went through the motions but really didn’t understand the reasoning behind Jesus Christ or what it really meant to be a Christian. I was born and raised into the Methodist faith. I loved going on youth trips and helping others out. Our youth group even help start up a soup kitchen in Springdale which is still going on today. I think part of that “helping others” out wanted me to become a Police Officer.
As long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a Police Officer. Well there was a time where I wanted to be an artist like my dad. One art class later, I realized that I would not be good in that field so I decided to go back to wanting being a Police Officer, I mean come on; who doesn’t want to drive fast, shoot guns, and eat donuts. I always walked the straight and narrow and for the most part stayed out of trouble. I wasn’t perfect but I wanted to do and did the right thing.
Almost 10 years ago I got to fulfill my career dream of becoming a police officer. I graduated from the academy and began my career doing what I wanted to do. When we get hired on as Rookie Officers they give us all sorts of equipment to keep us safe. We get a bulletproof vest, a handgun, a taser, pepper spray, a baton, etc. etc. These tools are “cool” and have evolved over the years and some are fairly new to Law Enforcement. The one tool that has been used since the inception of Law Enforcement and the concept has been around long before then has been handcuffs. We use these tools on a daily basis; like a builder uses a hammer or a mechanic uses a wrench, this tool is on our belt and we know where it is at all times. Most everyone knows by just seeing a pair of handcuffs early in their life what they are used for. Once handcuffs are on, our movements and freedom is limited or gone and we are at the mercy at the Officer who has placed the handcuffs on us. Physical handcuffs usually lead us to a place that is cold, lonely and dark, then onto a path of uncertainty.
In life we have handcuffs. These are handcuffs that keep us from being free to be who we should be in our walk with Jesus Christ. Our life handcuffs can be drugs or alcohol. They can be money or possessions. Our life handcuffs could be sex. Or Are we just a fake, like a child’s toy handcuffs? We could be wearing one handcuff or you could be wearing all the handcuffs every day or you could swap out different ones throughout the day. What about trading out one handcuff for another throughout your life?
I said everyone wears handcuffs and I am no different. Some know my story and for those that don’t; I will share my story to you if you want later. I have had all the handcuffs I have stated earlier throughout different stages in my life. Luckily for me, they have not led to physical handcuffs, although there have been close calls before. I know what it’s like to be lost. I know what it’s like to be broken.
I began struggling with my life handcuffs and they became tighter and tighter. I became more involved with my church and started understanding more what it was to be a Christian. The problem was; I just put another handcuff on without realizing it. I was wearing this handcuff daily; I wore this handcuff on the outside for everyone to see. I wore a church bracelet; you know similar to the WWJD ones, I carried a bible in my car, I had scripture on my desk, I talked about church; I was a “holy” man. I wore this handcuff to work and to church but when I got home; I took that handcuff off and traded it for the handcuff of the day. I was filling darkness with darkness, brokenness with brokenness, trading one handcuff for another.
I had a talk with a person that I had just recently met. I knew a sibling member and we had a connection through church but that was it. We talked about some things and after this meeting I finally was able to break down and open up. Why this person? Why this church? Why now? I don’t know. God has his reasons and I guess I will see and find out when that day comes. So I was going home and to my broken home to face an uncertain situation. The situation I had feared for a long time. I finally asked God for guidance. I had wondered away from his flock. I needed to come home. I felt a fatherly presence that night. I felt disappointment but peace. I had that, “son I’m mad at you but I’m still here” feeling. I also had the come back to me feeling. I felt so alone and in the dark because I had hurt so many people and had to actually look at my handcuffs and the marks that they had mad.
So with every set of handcuffs comes the key. We can’t have handcuffs without the key. Handcuffs are generally made so keys are basically universal. My handcuff key can unlock another Officer’s handcuffs and his can unlock mine. Handcuffs are uncomfortable, yes I have worn a physical pair so I know; and everyone is anxious to get out of them. Most people will try to help get out of them.
Ironically enough, Jesus Christ has the handcuff key as well. Don’t believe me. He says so himself. In John Chapter 8 Verse 12 Jesus says, “I am the light [key] of the world whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light [key]of life.”Jesus is talking to the Pharisees who are contesting the validity of his testimony. Jesus stands his ground as they ask about him being his own witness. Jesus says he knows where he came from and where he is going. Jesus then ups the ante and says that he is leaving and they could not go. One of the Jews asked if Jesus was going to kill himself because Jesus said, “Where I go, you cannot come?” (22). Jesus Said, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world. I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be you will indeed die in your sins.” (23) Jesus is not speaking about an earthly death but about an eternity death. Jesus was sent to save us to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and to live eternally. God says here is your key to the Kingdom; my one and only son.
In 1John17: The World and its desires pass away but the man who does the will of God lives forever
Since I have sought Jesus Christ to release my life’s handcuffs; my relationship with my family has improved, I’m in better shape, my outlook to others with addiction has changed. I am still an Officer and continue to help out my community. Now I have still had to seek professional help but God has guided me to positive Christian people to surround myself with. I’m glad to say I have been sober of my addiction for over 8 months now and still going strong.
If you are struggling with life’s handcuffs, I urge you to seek the light. If you don’t know what the light look like, please ask someone and get involved with a church in your area. Just like the physical handcuff being taken off there is still more of the process to go through. Life’s handcuffs are the same way. I was baptized and I still have to get into the word and know the word so I can spread the word. It didn’t stop with one prayer and my struggles still exist in the outside world but I have an amazing God who has supplied me with amazing tools and one amazing key.