Those are the names of two cats that resided in Stark County, Illinois in the 1980’s. I went with my husband and children to a parishioner’s for supper back in that decade and the hosts said that they named their two cats, “Get Out” and “Stay Out”. The reason being for such names is that they so often found themselves saying those commands to these two unwelcome-in-the-house felines. It was only a problem when the cats tried sneaking in the back door when guests were coming in the front door. The guests could hear “Get Out” and “Stay Out” loudly shouted and they then became confused – were they, the guests, to leave the house?
That cat scenario came back to me when I opened one of my Christmas gifts and found a t-shirt with this printed on the front in large letters: “Get Out and Stay Out” Above those words is the logo “New Leaf – New Life”. This shirt is from a 5k Walk/Run to raise funds for a prison-related work (read about the project in the devotional from the last week in December here). The idea, of course, is that one should try to get out of prison and then stay out of prison.
My father found this out after eighteen years of being in and out of penal institutions. He needed to take responsibility for his decisions, he told me, and he finally decided that he was the reason that he was in prison. He had blamed others for his incarceration most of his life up until his last release. He declared to himself that he was never going back!
Making choices. That is something that each of us is responsible for in everything we think, say or do. The really beautiful thing is this – we have Father God to help us correct our thinking and support us in good decision-making. Christ died so that we can be free. The prodigal son was free to not go back to the pig-pen! He could begin again with the understanding that his life could be redeemed and that the father had only forgiveness and love to supersede his childish and selfish waywardness.
“In this freedom Christ has made us free and completely liberated us, stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery which you have once put off.” (Galatians 5:1)
Get out and stay out…of any bondage you may be in. Remember this:
“The secret is not how to begin but how to begin again.” Remember and be free and blessed.