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"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1. "Caught Up" starring Bokeem Woodbine. "Sometimes we get caught up in our troubles and our problems and we let life slip away, but life is precious, all of life, and one must try to take in as much of it as possible." Yanni. "You can run from some problems, but then you get caught up in others." Simone Elkeles "It can be easy to get caught up in craziness and insecurity." Dakota Fanning

Here I go again! When I set my mind to understanding life and people, I tend to look below the surface of what I encounter when I interact with others. It always intrigues me that most of us (this is what I believe anyway) want to do what is good or what is right, but there are forces in life that pull us in so many directions or trap us so completely that we can easily go in a direction that is not beneficial for ourselves or anyone else, and we know better. Pardon me for sounding like I am telling a riddle. I am not.

If you have not seen "Caught Up" starring Bokeem Woodbine and Cynda Williams, please do so. They say that art imitates life. I would venture to say that this is probably the case here or parts of it. In other words, this film could have been inspired by true life events. Caught Up is a 1998 American crime-drama film written and directed by Darin Scott. It was filmed in 1997. To give you a brief synopsis of the plot, Daryl Allen (Bokeem Woodbine) is an ex-con who has been serving time for drug charges. Now he plans to get his life straight, open up a night club and be a part of his son Jerome's life. His friend Trip offers to give him the $10,000. for his club. Daryl drives Trip to the bank unaware that he's taking part in a robbery, which makes him furious. During a police chase they get into a car accident. Trip is killed and Daryl is sent back to prison.

During that period, his girlfriend Trish (Cynda Williams) gets married and moves away with their son. Released after five years, Daryl meets Jake, his parole officer (Tony Todd) and is informed that if he gets into trouble again, he will serve 25 years to life in prison. Daryl meets a psychic named Vanessa Dietrich (also Cynda Williams) who looks exactly like his ex-girlfriend. They seem to be getting along until a man in a mask shoots at them. (The man in the mask is Vanessa's ex-boyfriend who is trying to kill her. She thought she had fled far enough away from him, but he found her). Vanessa gives Daryl a gun with which he scares the man away. The next morning Daryl wakes up with a gun pointed at his head. The man holding the gun introduces himself as Vanessa's friend Billy. He tells Daryl that the gun is empty and that he was just testing him. Furious, Daryl hits Billy. Vanessa walks in and tells Daryl that she's gotten him work as a limo driver. He would be working for Billy. Now, us movie goers are by now shouting at the screen, "don't take that job." After initially refusing to work for Billy, he eventually changes his mind and takes the job.

You can probably imagine that his life spirals out of control, he gets caught up in situations that appear to have no way out; including taking a job that required that he deliver a car that had a dead body in the trunk of the car. He was not given that detail when Billy asked Daryl to deliver the car to his client. The car gets a flat and when Daryl goes to retrieve the spare he finds a dead body in the trunk. While trying to change the tire, a police officer pulls up and asks him what happened. As they talk the trunk opens up and the cop walks toward the car. GET THE MOVIE TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS. All I am going to say is that this is just the beginning of his being caught up.

Okay, this movie is extreme. But, we do get caught up in our lives, our attitudes, our outlook on life, etc. We also can get in too deep. The problem is that we are much like Daryl (Bokeem Woodbine). We know that we need a paradigm shift, but we go for the familiar. Like Abraham in the Bible, we have to get away from the familiar sometimes, and that includes family, some acquaintances, places and things. "The Lord had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the Land I will show you. "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing."

In real life, we might wonder why such a person would not just walk away and start fresh; leaving behind peoples and activities from the past. Of course, this is easier said than done. Ever try fasting beyond breakfast time, perhaps to noon? Not fun. Maybe I am talking about myself. I digress. Old habits are to break. Even the old habits of holding onto our stubbornness and our demand to have things our way. There is also arrogance; I got this. Abram (Abraham) was known as the father of faith because he was able to let go, go, and trust God. I am sure he did not understand and I am almost certain that there were things that he did not want to leave behind. Yet, he was obedient.

There are some, and I will not name names, that cannot let go of even unforgiveness, knowing that it will eventually harm the person who withholds forgiveness more than the one they refuse to forgive. "Unforgiveness is like drinking poisoning expecting someone else to die. Marianne Williamson. "But, if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Matthew 6:15. It is a stumbling block, that will eventually trip you.

What is needed is a change of mind. "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." Proverbs 23:7. "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2. The tragic tale of our anti-hero Daryl shows that serving time in prison did not change his heart or his mind. He was merely doing lip service when he expressed his desire to go straight. A true change would have manifested in making better choices. His choice to go for the easy cash; ignoring the obvious, shows his thief mentality. Who is going to give him $10,000? Obviously the crowd he hung around with did not qualify. Otherwise, why did he have to go to prison in the first place?

Further, he demonstrated no change or transformation for the better when as an ex-con he took the gun to scare someone off. Just handling the gun could land him back in the slammer. You may say, "he had to defend himself." It's a tough call, but the lady he was with is the company he needed to avoid. In other words, "You cannot change the people around you. But you can change the people that you choose to be around." Roy T. Bennett. "Shady people are going to bring shade." I just thought that up.

We have many examples in Scripture to the life of faith and how we are to live our lives. Therefore, we should pray, read, and be guided by those examples; living accordingly. Hebrews 12:1. We can start with Jesus. He is our supreme example. Then there are those who bear witness to or who have a testimony as to how to live our best life in accordance with Scripture. Learn from them. In order for change to happen, there must be a a willingness to change. This involves sacrifice. Instant gratification is no longer in your vocabulary. Instead, patient endurance and steadfast and active persistence rule the day. Is there any reason you are not able to "run this race" unencumbered? Remember God has a plan for your life and mine. It is the best plan. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11. Are you on board?

1. Do a self-check. Are you in agreement with God that you want to live your best life? Well, examine your daily living habits. Do they reflect prayer, praise and taking care of yourself? I do not have to go into detail. You know what healthy living is. You know what healthy habits are. If you have slacked off; get back on board. Write down your intentions and why. Then get to it.

2. Do you have a changed mind? Before you attempt any undertaking, you have to make up your mind to do it. Next comes, making a plan to get it done. Don't just talk about it, be about it. Figure out what you need to make your plan a reality. Run it by someone else that you trust. Of course, pray about it, and then step out on faith and do it. For goodness sakes, write everything down and review it briefly daily. Update as needed.

3. Do a heart check. Is what you are planning what you really want to do? Sometimes we are caught up in the expectations of others and we go about pursing our goals half-heartedly. Make sure that your plans bring you joy. In that way, it will always be a pleasure to work at it and you will be excited to see it through to fruition.

4. Do you have honest ambitions? I should not even have to ask this, but I will anyway. Our anti-hero might have on some level thought it was okay to commit a crime if he could get away with it. Of course, this never entered your mind or mine. Nevertheless, when you seek to be in God's will for your life, integrity and honesty is the only way to go. Put the time in needed to get the results that you want. Bless somebody else along the way. Honor God in all that you do.

5. Do you know what might be a stumbling block? Consider this carefully. My grandmother told me that we could be our own stumbling block so we should not ask God to remove it. Pray that He will give you the strength to climb above it. If your stumbling block is your attitude, change it. Go from attitude to gratitude. Cultivate a spirit of thankfulness. In all things give thanks. "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

6. Finally, look at the past, learn the lesson from it and move on. Do not wallow in it. If you are harboring any unforgiveness, pray and ask God to help you to forgive. If you have offended anyone, ask for their forgiveness. Endeavor to show the love of God wherever you go. Remember love is an action word. Get going!! Get giving!!

7. Let go and Let God. If you are caught up, get out! You do not have to do it by yourself. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6. Godspeed!

Yours, Yvette

Thank you always for your support. May God continue to richly bless you. You can comment at:


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