Do you remember what it was like to be caught in something so entangling you couldn’t get free? No matter what you did, the binding was so tight there was no way out. Eventually, most of us give up. We see the futility of our struggle and we simply stop fighting. We go belly up and wait for the death grip to take its toll.

In recent weeks an amazing video surfaced which was taken in February by some snorkelers in the Sea of Cortez. They saw a young Humpback whale floating motionless in the sea, and fearing it was dead, one man swam close to investigate. The huge leviathan was completely tangled in a fishing net that covered its pectoral and dorsal fins. The creature was so weighted down it was about 15 feet under water.

After a few minutes the snorkeler saw a sign of life. Quickly, the group in the boat began trying desperately to free the whale. Working furiously, the men took turns cutting the tough fibers of the net one by one. As the whale became partially free, it fluttered one huge fin, but it stayed calm as if it was cooperating with the hands moving to save it.

Eventually the whale was free and glided away. When it reached some distance from the snorkelers’ small boat, it jumped and did tail slaps and seemed to dance with joy at its freedom. For over an hour the young whale breached and cavorted in the sea. Watch the uplifting video: (long version) or (shorter version).

I remember what it was like to be ensnared by the effects of trauma and the ropes of addiction and codependency. For some time I had recognized I was totally powerless to free myself. I was struggling to heal from early stage cervical cancer and the surgeries it required. As people showered me with kindness, I knew what most people didn’t in the early 1990s: that my disease had been caused by HPV, a sexually transmitted infection.  I was in real pain physically and dying spiritually. Yet I continued an affair (the last of many) without taking any precautions to protect the health of either of us.

As I slid further under the water of shame, depression and despair, a loving God saw my distress and did for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself. God provided a safe friend and equipped her to respond with grace and compassion when I confessed the truth of my situation out of sheer desperation.  When I came to the end of myself, God’s rescuing hands slowly unbound the “cords of death that entangled me” (Psalm 18:4).

Unlike the whale, I found it extremely hard at times to cooperate with the progression of becoming free. My trauma thoroughly informed my self image, and I didn’t believe I could get my needs met without selling myself out in an illicit relationship. At times I was a reluctant beneficiary of being unbound, because the period of quietly submitting to the process of gaining freedom while not yet being fully released was painful. But God also patiently supplied a willingness to be willing to surrender to that process one day at a time. He also gave me a vision of how wonderful it would be to be free.

For many years now I’ve been blessed by the amazing gift of redemption. Though sometimes I still drift too close to polluted waters where the cords of trauma and unhealthy coping may be lurking, most days I see these dangers and steer clear. And frequently I remember what it felt like to be powerless and drowning, and I dance for joy to be free.

How have you experienced God’s working in your life? Are there special people who helped remove the bindings?  Have you had the chance to help someone else gain freedom?