Henry, the lizard, had sat on Tommy’s shoulder for weeks, everywhere except the chow hall. He perched there like royalty, gazing upon his subjects.
Everyone loved Henry.
Tommy had owned Henry for several months, and I was sure he turned his head slightly when I spoke to him. I may have imagined it, but everyone agreed – out of all the cell lizards, Henry was the smartest.
The weather turned cold and wet here, and we didn’t see Henry for a week. When he finally resumed his customary position on Tommy’s shoulder, he seemed a little grumpy. His head stopped turning, as if he wanted nothing to do with anyone. Day after day, week after week, Henry ignored us all. Was he playing dead?
Or maybe not playing?
One morning, in my hurry to get into my cell, I literally bumped into Tommy. Henry flew off his shoulder and landed many feet away. I was afraid I had killed him, but Tommy let me in on a big secret. “Don’t worry, Homes,” he said sadly, yet shamefully. “Henry’s been dead for weeks.”
I was more than confused – I was in shock! “What do you mean he’s been dead for weeks?” I couldn’t believe I was asking that question, but I needed an answer.
“He died in that cold spell we had,” Tommy said, as he picked Henry up and placed him on his shoulder. “But I didn’t want to let him go, so he is still my Homie. He’s just not alive anymore.”
As insane as Tommy sounds, he is not alone. Henry is a great example of you and me. Yup, us. As believers in Yeshua we’ve been freed from our past sins, our hurts, our cold, dark, dead, old lives, yet we continue to act as if these things are still with us.
We carry the weight of our past – our dead past – on our shoulders. We have different reasons for our personal dead lizards, but we have them. We as believers have been clothed with Christ. The old is dead. We have been made new.
Our new clothing is no place for dead lizards.
Because of Christ’s victory over death, through His resurrection, we have victory over our dead pasts also. We should bury them, and leave them in their graves, never to be seen again.
Why do we keep putting those dead lizards on our shoulders?
Many believers in prison are twice shackled – once by the walls and wires that surround them, and twice by the old, dirty wrappings of their past sins. Before getting released, these believers need to remove the ugly, shameful dead weight of their pasts, and wrap themselves in the grace, mercy, and newness of Christ.
As you read this, maybe you realize that you have been carrying your own dead lizard. It’s time to put it away, and put on Christ.