Category | Inspiration

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We live in a world of limitations. Limits protect us from very real dangers. But when those limitations are based on a lie, they become chains that prevent us from becoming all that we could be.

The little elephant was so curious, so full of life. He stretched his nimble little trunk, straining to catch butterflies. He bent down to take a closer look at the vibrant flowers that were just out of reach, their sweet scent drawing him nearer. He longed to play in the fresh cool waters of the river. Life was an adventure to be experienced. His future was full of dreams and of hope, but of a hope that was quickly dying.

In desperation, the baby elephant pulls and fights with all his strength against his bonds. Yet the heavy steel bracelet and chain still bind him to a tree. He learns he cannot break free, so he stops trying. The spark of life dims in his eyes. The joy of life is replaced with a lingering sadness. Hope is lost. Unable to free himself, he surrenders in defeat.

“Elephants never forget.” He will stay within the boundaries learned by his experience for the rest of his life. This remains true, even if the mahout replaces the strong steel bracelet with a weak leather strap and the heavy chain is replaced with a feeble little rope tied to a stake. When he becomes full-grown he will possess great strength, but he will not pull free. As soon as he feels the slightest tug on his rear leg, he remembers and surrenders in defeat. “Elephants never forget.”

It’s neither the rope nor the stake that binds him. It is the elephant’s belief. He is bound by something that really has no power to control him, except the power he chooses to give it.

Elephants aren’t the only ones bound by imaginary chains. We may have a dream in our heart, but our thoughts and beliefs, lock us into old limitations. Many of us have given up, believing that there’s no hope for change in our lives. But unless we grasp the striking fact that we are tied with a thread, that the chain is an illusion, that we are believing a lie, that others were wrong about us, that we were wrong about ourselves — we will continue to live within the confines of our fears and limitations. Our own chains of insecurity and self-doubt will forever bind us and blind us to the possibilities of success. We will allow our lives to be controlled by things that no longer have the power to control us, except the power we choose to give them.

It’s time that we, like Toomai of the Elephants, in Rudyard Kipling’s “Jungle Book”, take a stand and refuse to live according to our learned limitations.

I will remember what I was, I am sick of rope and chain–
I will not sell my back to man for a bundle of sugar-cane
I will go out until the day, until the morning break–
I will forget my ankle-ring and snap my picket stake.

“He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
– Matthew 17:20

Copyright 2004 by Ken Sapp


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