Avoiding the monkey trap

Published 4:40 pm Friday, March 31, 2017

During a time of study and sermon preparation I came upon an interesting story about a method to trap a monkey. 

It is neither costly nor sophisticated, but is supposed to do the job—although the writer cautioned that he had never tried it.  It requires just a few readily available items: a long-necked gourd, a piece of rope and a couple pounds of uncooked rice. 

The trapper simply cuts off the tip of the gourd’s neck, pours rice in so that it settles in the bulb of the gourd, ties it to a tree with the rope, then patiently waits for the monkey to arrive. 

When the hungry primate discovers the rice filled gourd he squeezes his hand down through the slender neck of the gourd and grads a hand full of rice.  He closes his hand into a fist to hold the rice, but when he tries to pull his hand out of the gourd he cannot because it is now too big.  Unwilling to let go of his treat, the monkey is trapped!

Somehow I think most monkeys are smarter than that, so I have my doubts about the success of such a scheme.  And since we don’t have a problem with monkeys roaming about our part of the world, we surely have more pressing problems to solve.  But there might be some things we can learn from the idea since we are sometimes so determined to have what we want that we are unwilling to let go of our own plans in order to allow the plans of God to prevail.  Such thinking is a trap, indeed, that we too often surrender to.

Have you ever made a decision in life that you sensed deep down inside that it would probably be neither wise nor God honoring, yet your desire and determination prevailed over wisdom?  The consequences of such tight fisted decisions are usually not pleasant and can take a long time to overcome.  It can be amazing how we try to justify our unwise decisions and actions to force them to work, while knowing full well that stubbornness comes with a price.

How do we avoid the trap of insisting on our own plans rather than following the perfect will of God?  There is much that could be said in response to that question, including what David recorded in Psalm 143:  “Teach me to do Your will, for you are my God; may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground”  (verse 10, New International Version). 

There are several things contained in those few sincere words of wisdom that can, if put into practice, be immensely beneficial toward enabling us to follow God’s plans rather than our own.  One is that of relationship with God.  David acknowledged concerning God that “You are my God.”  Then there is that of being willing to be taught by God:  “Teach me to do Your will.”  And we must put into practice what God teaches us; we must allow Him to lead us.  In the words of the psalmist David, “May Your good Spirit lead me.”

Don’t get caught in the trap of stubbornness.  Always be willing to let go of your plans and desires when they are contrary to what God wants for you.  Walk with Him, learn from Him and allow Him to lead you.  There is great freedom in that kind of living.