Choose to be Different

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. 
–John 10:10 RSV

Once upon a time in a land far away, there lived a group of people called the Laconians. The Laconians lived in a rural setting; their village was surrounded by a forest. They looked and acted a lot like you and I do. They dressed like we dress and went to school and work like we do. They even had the same family struggles and search for identity that we have. But there was one major difference: Connected to the ankle of every Laconian was a brace, and attached to the brace was a strong metal chain, and connected to the chain was a round, heavy metal ball.

Wherever the Laconians went or whatever they did, they carried the ball and chain. Yet, no one seemed to mind. After all, they were used to the ball and chain, and no one in Laconia was free from the bondage of the ball and chain.

One day the hero of the story, Tommy, was in the forest after school exploring when he went around a corner, slipped, and fell – and the chain broke. Tommy had never heard of a chain breaking before in the land of Laconia, and he was terrified. But he was also curious. As he stood and stared at the broken chain, he sensed that something very significant had happened in his life. In fact, he tried to take a step without the ball and chain and almost fell down. After all, he wasn’t used to the freedom of walking without this bondage.

Tommy quickly slipped the ball and chain back on his ankle. He told no one of his new discovery. The next day after school this new curiosity drove him back to the forest to experiment with his newfound freedom. This time when he unhooked the chain, he walked. Yes, it was wobbly, but he quickly learned to compensate, and in a few hours he was running and jumping and even trying to climb the trees in the forest. Every day after school he found himself out in the forest, free to experience life in a different way from anyone else in Laconia.

He decided to share his secret with his best friend. After school one day he brought his friend to the forest and showed him his new freedom. But his friend responded by saying, “Don’t be different! Once a Laconian, you’ll always be a Laconian. Be happy with what you have.” This response only put more fuel in Tommy’s fire. He knew he needed to show all the people of his little village that they could be set free.

One spring day when the whole village was outside, Tommy took the ball and placed it under his arm, then ran and skipped through the town. He wanted to show the people of his village his joy and freedom. Their response was that of shock. They mocked him, scolded him, and challenged him to not be different. Even his family told him to immediately become a normal part of the community and put back his chain.

Tommy knew then and there that since he had experienced this freedom he could never again settle for second-best in life. For Tommy, mediocrity was out of the question. He would choose to be different, and he was different from then on.

I wrote this little story for people who don’t want to settle for second-best in life. What is keeping you from breaking the chain and striving to be all that God wants you to be? Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” You don’t have to live a life of boring mediocrity. God’s desire for your life is to break the chain that holds you back and to give your life to His purpose. You can choose to be different!

1. Why is understanding John 10:10 like making a new discovery?

2. Identify which parts of your life are holding you back from all God has for you. What can you do to yield these parts of your life to God’s purpose?

Romans 5:17, John 3:15-16

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Jim Burns

Jim Burns is the president of HomeWord. He speaks to thousands of people around the world each year. He has close to 2 million resources in print in 20 languages. He primarily writes and speaks on the values of HomeWord, which are: Strong Marriages, Confident Parents, Empowered Kids, and Healthy Leaders. Some of his most popular books are: Confident Parenting, The Purity Code, Creating an Intimate Marriage, Closer, and Doing Life with Your Adult Children. Jim and his wife, Cathy, live in Southern California and have three grown daughters, Christy, Rebecca, and Heidi; three sons-in-law, Steve and Matt, and Andy; and three grandchildren, James, Charlotte and Huxley.

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