Retraining Elephants

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Romans 12:2

It’s been years since I went to the circus but I can vividly recall the excitement I felt as a young boy when one came to town. My favorite part was watching the elephants. They were massive compared to all the other animals in the show. The most amazing thing about these giant mammals is how the ring master could control them even though he or she would pale in comparison.

In the early days of the traveling circus elephants would assist in setting up the “Big top”, the tent that would house the circus as it went from town to town. Elephants are so strong they could raise the tent by pulling on the ropes that were affixed to the poles raising them up by wrapping the rope around their truck and walking backwards causing the giant tent to rise in the same way campers use to erect their old pole tent. Once you stood the center pole and staked it out to secure it to the ground, the rest was easy.

Elephants as strong as they are were held in place by a tiny rope tied around their foot while the other end of the rope was secured to a stake in the ground. You would think that an elephant would just take one step and either the rope itself or the stake holding it to the ground would snap in two. Why don’t elephants just run loose? What makes one of these giants stand in place without trying to escape? In a word, memory. When elephants are little they are tethered to a large stake in the ground by a very strong rope. The young elephants at first do pull against the rope to no avail. After hours of trying to pull away the elephants finally give up thinking it is impossible to escape the ropes grasp. The circus master is banking on an important point, “If you think you can you can and if you think you can’t, you can’t.” What’s true with elephants is the same for me and you!  

The fact is, a mature elephant could easily break free but they don’t even try. As a matter of fact, if you pay close attention, the rope the trainers place around the elephants foot isn’t even attached to a stake. The rope just lays on the ground. The trainers know the elephants won’t even try to pull on the rope because the elephants were trained at an early age to believe the rope was stronger than they are.

Hopefully you see the point. You and I can be a lot like elephants. Before we came to know Christ, the devil had us all bound up. We were helpless and in bondage to sin. On our own we couldn’t escape its clutches. When we came to Jesus Christ and received Him as Savior, the chains that once bound us were loosed and God has made us free. There is freedom in the Lord. The sin that so easily entangled us can now be broken as we walk with God. The devil is always working to remind us of our past, to make us think we are stuck, bound up by sin. Today is time to retrain the elephants as it were.

You have the power of God working in you today. Don’t believe the lies of the devil any longer. You are not who you once were, you have been set free! No one can hold you back, no one can hold you down unless you allow them too. In Jesus you really are living in the land of the free and the home of the brave! Behavioral scientists tell us it takes 23 days to develop a new habit. The good news of the gospel today is, it only takes one day to break an old one! Remember this following verse today. Don’t ever forget it. Commit it to memory knowing…

“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

John 8:36


Michael Osthimer





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