A few years ago I was an accomplice in a kidnapping at the high school where I teach. It was one of the highlights of my year.
It all started when Polly, a first-year English teacher, "borrowed" McGruff, the crime-fighting stuffed dog that sat guard on the desk of our school's police officer, in order to ransom the furry mutt for chocolates. That's where I came in. My room was to be the drop-off point.
For over a month Polly sent the officer pictures, each accompanied by a ransom note. McGruff getting his brains nuked in a microwave. McGruff hanging on for dear life to the mane of a crazed stallion. McGruff tied to railroad tracks. Polly was brilliant. When the officer tried to appease my kidnapper friend with a paltry five M & Ms, Polly retaliated by upping her ante. The new demand? Godiva chocolate ... no Nestles, for this canine con-artist. When no goodies appeared, McGruff was in real trouble.
His furry little body was squashed in a vice as well as Duct-taped to a plane's propeller. Polly wasn't through. Knowing that I was joining my husband Dave in Florida for spring training, she decided pictures of McGruff on "foreign soil" could become the perfect dog chase to throw off the detective who was, by then, starting to sniff out a few too many clues.
Dave wasn't as eager to help as I had hoped, although he did help tie a noose around McGruff's neck so we could hang him from a palm tree. The next day we buried him up to his neck in sand at a nearby beach.
Taking pictures of both incidents provoked gawks from bystanders -- something that seemed to bother Dave -- although I was having way too much fun to be deterred. I forwarded the pictures to Polly who created more ransom notes. Surely this would be worth a bag of Godiva chocolates!
With the exception of our custodian, Polly and I were determined not to let anyone in on our plot. When colleagues asked us if we knew anything about the missing pooch, we feigned ignorance, working methodically to not let anyone or anything interfere. Polly and I guarded McGruff as if our careers depended on it (certainly something we discussed). We held him captive.
That incident, as silly as it was, gave me a fresh view of a scripture that I had read countless times.
"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
Until McGruff's kidnapping, I had never given much consideration to what it was like to take something "captive," and even though Paul wasn't referring to a stuffed dog, the lesson had one striking similarity as well as one striking difference.
If I protected my thoughts with as much determination as I did McGruff (except for the lying, deceiving part, of course), my Christian walk would be much smoother. So, why didn't I?
Why did I so easily give the enemy a foothold by surrendering?
Worry. Doubt. Insecurity. Blame. Envy. All negative thoughts that had the potential to turn into words and actions, should I fail to destroy them as soon as they came knocking.
It's not like I didn't know better. That scripture in 2 Corinthians makes it clear. I am to ground my thoughts in God's word, taking them captive and making them obedient to Christ.
And then it needs to become my mission to not allow anyone or anything to interfere. That happens only when I am proactive -- when I'm "prayed up" for the day ahead.
As for the difference between holding the two captive? That's easy.
The consequences of one are peace and joy, and the other?
Well, let's just say I learned my lesson ... and it wasn't nearly as much fun.