Some people will endure just about anything out of love. Take Reg Spiers, for instance.
Back in 1964, this Australian javelin thrower was earnestly competing for a chance to represent the UK in that year’s Olympics. His quest took him all the way to England and cost him every penny he owned. Unfortunately, Reg didn’t make the cut and he was left stranded in a foreign country, 13,000 miles from home.
But whatever determination Reg displayed to make the Olympic team paled in comparison to his love for his baby daughter whose first birthday was fast approaching. Yet without a dime to his name, how could this towering six-foot, six-inch athlete make his way home to Adelaide, Australia?
He devised a plan. With the help of his friend and fellow athlete, John McSorley, Reg he figured he could airfreight himself back to Australia. He and McSorley constructed a five-foot-long by three-foot-high by two and a half-foot-wide box into which he could barely squeeze his large frame. The box had latches at both ends that Reg could open from inside and its boards were spaced thinly apart to allow air to enter. After Reg wiggled into the confining container, McSorley passed him some rations, a flashlight, an Esquire magazine, and a suit to change into when he arrived at the Perth Airport. He then nailed his friend into the box, pasted a label on it that read, “Cash on Delivery,” and then dropped it off at Heathrow Airport.
But the confinement Reg believed might last a 24 hours took a bit longer. The flight from Heathrow was delayed by 28 hours due to fog. Yet Reg endured his sardine-like conditions. Then, after his flight landed in Bombay (Mumbai), India his box was left on the tarmac in the sweltering sun for 18 hours. The heat was so intense that Reg was forced to strip naked inside his box. Once airborne again the heat turned to cold and his clothes rapidly returned to their former place. By the time his plane finally landed in Perth, Reg had been packed in his crate for 63 hours. When luggage handlers moved the box to a nearby shed Reg saw his chance to escape undetected. He freed himself and changed into his suit. Fortunately, his crate was parked near a case of beverages, to which the badly dehydrated man helped himself.
Yet his journey was far from over. Reg Spiers proceeded to hitch-hike his way 2,000 miles across Australia to Adelaide – but made it home on time to celebrate his baby girl’s first birthday.
The plan was completely successful – except for one serious glitch. Reg neglected to notify his friend back in England that he had arrived safely. Fearing that Reg might have passed out and been in danger, John McSorley notified a journalist of his concerns. The story turned into a media frenzy. But it ended well, as Reg’s hometown volunteered to pay the airlines for shipping their boy home.
As I thought about this poor father – who was so desperate to get home to his daughter that he endured being boxed up in a little crate – it reminded me of something. Often we “confine ourselves” out of love. Out of love for our spouse we place restrictions on our freedoms and pleasures. We stop being a “game-playing” and “hang out with the guys” type of person. We grow up and focus on what’s best for our marriage. Out of love we cease to splurge on ourselves and begin to buy only what’s necessary for our children. We confine our selfish desires and make sacrifices for the sake of our families.
But, in doing so, we reap huge rewards in the end. We learn the joys of loving and being loved.
Out of love for God we also place restrictions on ourselves. Because we love God and wish to please Him, we confine our wandering desires to do only what is healthy for us and best for others. Because of our gratitude to God – for sending His Son to be punished in our place that we may be eternally blessed – we confine ourselves to His holy will and do only those things that are pleasing to Him. Jesus said, “If you love Me you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15).
Yet, God’s commandments are not that confining, for later in the Bible we are told, “For this is love for God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). God’s commandments are not burdensome and confining, for keeping them out of love only brings us lasting happiness, a clear conscience, and the assurance of eternal life.
Dear Father in heaven, out of love and gratitude for loving and redeeming me, I choose to confine myself to do only those things that are pleasing to You. Please strengthen me and help me to fulfill this commitment – for Christ’s sake. Amen.
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