Have you ever found yourself still in your pajamas and t-shirt from the night before at three o’clock in the afternoon? You mull around the house unwilling to muster up enough energy to do anything productive but hating yourself all the while you miss another minute of sunlight. I think to some degree everyone has been in this situation but I want to now parallel this with our spiritual walk. It seems that we do this very thing from time to time when we get “burnt out” to some degree and we then want to “check out” of our relationship with God. Have you ever seen a person on fire for God? This person is at every church service, every prayer meeting, they are texting you scripture, posting on your Facebook about God, and so on. Then all the sudden you realize you haven’t seen this person in a few Sundays at church. You realize that you haven’t gotten any texts, online messages, or heard from them at all for that matter. You find out later that they haven’t left home for two weeks, the last thing they want to talk about is God, and the lips that couldn’t stop praising God a few weeks earlier now wouldn’t say a nice thing about someone if their life depended on it! They are a creature in despair. They look at the world around them as a sudden cynic. The world was bright, now it’s dark. The promise was strong, now it’s dead. What on earth has happened to this person? This person, in a sense, did the same thing Peter did when he went to meet Jesus on the sea. Peter saw Jesus walking on water in the storm. Despite the waves, winds, and rain Peter made a decision to step out of the boat. In that moment Peter fully trusted his savior. Peter began to walk to Jesus. He defied the laws of physics! Peter’s humanly gaze of a powerful God tore the veil of natural order to shreds. Then suddenly Peter looked away. He looked to the enormous waves, heard the howling wind, and felt the down pour of rain. This is when he sank. When Peter was locked into the life giver, there was a protection that kept him from the natural order of his circumstances. When he looked away this protection seemed to fade and he sank. This is when Jesus had to pull him from the water. Look at the “burnt out” Christian. They once took a step for God. Maybe it was not walking on water but the Bible says every man is given a measure of faith. So after this step of faith this person had some success. He felt close with God. He gazed upon him and this gaze protected this individual despite his circumstances, but how did he get to a state of being “burnt out”? We are made to gaze upon this majesty, beauty, and goodness. This gaze produces “good” fruit within us and a desire to feed others with this “good” fruit. When we break the gaze from our Lord then all the sudden we find ourselves vulnerable to the elements. If we look away from God we inevitably find ourselves looking at something else. This “something else” (whatever it is) is not God; and thus is a lesser thing. When our eyes are on a lesser thing we become a lesser person. Why can’t this Christian seem to muster enough energy to pray? Because he has tasted of the sweetest of fruits, yet is eating wafers. He had gazed upon the most beautiful things God has to offer, and is now trying to convince himself that a pizza and a movie marathon will cure his woes. He has interceded for the greatest injustices in the world, and now all he fights over is the remote. This creature is angry, bitter, and frustrated because he is caged. If you find yourself here today you can break free. Know before you go on with your temporary pleasures that the only way out is to look to the one who holds the keys. Imagine if you won the lottery. You just received 250 million dollars. What euphoric feelings would you feel? Nothing in this world would be off limits to you. You could travel, spend, and help whenever you pleased. Now imagine that all the sudden the stock market fell through and you lost every cent in your account. What despair would you feel? I mean if you have nothing and lose everything then you have lost nothing but if you have everything and lose it then it is going to leave you worse than sad; it’s going to leave you jaded. The animal that was raised in captivity has no appetite for far off forests, the thrill of the hunt, and the wonders of wild. On the other hand the animal that was captured as an adult is often frustrated and lethargic. The caged Christian is just that. He has been tricked into believing that he has lost the inheritance and riches that Christ gave him on the cross by his failure, and ironically, buying into this lie is a self sterilizing technique. How can I undo something the Lord has put into place? We ward our Christian lives as if we set the rules and have complete control over the direction its going. I don’t have the right to hold unforgiveness, bitterness, and resentment toward myself! God is the only one with that right and He chose long ago not to exercise it! It is so clear how the enemy blinds us. What a clever devil! He disguises our prison cell with our own depraved sense of autonomy and justice; thinking that we “deserve” the cage we live in! The truth is we don’t have the right to build this cage, because the question is never what we deserve, but what God has chosen to give us. The caged Christian must begin to look again to His freedom in Christ. It will not be easy nor will it be quick, but if done in faithful continuance then one caught in this web of lies will soon see the burning gaze of the Lord once again and feel his cage becoming his testimony.