By John Hutchinson

Dog gone!


Sometimes the idea of running away can seem appealing ... free from all our stresses, work and obligations.

When my dear old dog died I phoned the dog catcher as most of our previous dogs had been discards. He said, "I have a young one here – come and see what you think."

The catcher took me into the confine. "Careful," he said as he introduced the hopeful hound, "whatever you do don't let him out."

His tail wagged wildly as I spoke and patted his head. But it wasn't the kind of dog I needed.

Then, as I edged sideways through the door and before I knew it the dog was out and off! – at a speed like Secretariat!

This fellow had brains. Once out he was staying out.

The lesson is 'once free stay free!' Once out – stay out.

Why is it that 60% of those let out of jail end up in jail again? Surely jail isn't that good!!

And, we don't have to be behind bars. Debts, drug addictions, compulsive gambling, alcoholism and other abuses can chain us up like a dog to a kennel. I remember young blokes in our shearing schools OK'ing their drug use by saying, "We can give this up any time we like."

The truth was they couldn't!

I remember a 15-year-old who dreamed of owning a powerful Harley Davidson and speeding to freedom, leaving his worries behind, and joining the Hells Angels.

Freedom is not always freedom. A lad may join the bikers but how free will he be?

In 1986 a book was published entitled, 'Free for Life.' It won the book of the year award. It was the story of a British TV star who was arrested at Bangkok airport with drugs in her luggage – planted by her traitor boyfriend. She found herself in the infamous Yard Lao Women's prison.

After years in the horrid place she was pardoned by the king of Thailand. As she came through the prison doors she dropped her bags and jumped up and down as she tried to grasp what it was now like to be free.

But, Rita Nightingale had already experienced a sense of freedom. Christian missionaries visited the prison and told her about Jesus Christ. She accepted Jesus as her Savior and Lord and found an inner peace and spiritual liberation.

After leaving Thailand she joined 'Prison Fellowship' – a Christian mission which ministers to those in jails. She said, 'True freedom is Jesus Christ. Who He sets free is free indeed.'

The Bible says, 'It is for freedom that Christ sets us free ... don't become slaves again.'

God wants us to be free.

It's one thing to be free – but another to stay free and be truly free.

Nelson Mandela, who said, "... to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."

Freedom comes at a cost. Americans are free because of the many thousands of soldiers who fought and died on horrid battlefields.

There's a wonderful story about a big black man brought before a slave auction. Enthusiastic bidding pushed the price high. The highest bid came from a tall thin man who said to him, 'you're free.'

The puzzled and frightened man couldn't believe it. But, Abraham Lincoln assured him he had paid the price - he was now free. To Lincoln he said, 'you're the most wonderful man ever – I will serve you for the rest of my days.'

There's a verse in the Bible which says, "You are bought with a price."

Jesus paid a high price for our freedom from sin – He gave himself for us and died in our place. No matter what we've done or how bad we may feel about ourselves we can receive a pardon from God.

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