There’s an old legend I learned in college. I’m not sure if it was from my advisor in my major or the biology prof who was in the Peace Corp. The story talks about poachers using a coconut to trap monkeys (or maybe apes or gorillas, but I think monkeys are the right size). The coconut was emptied of everything and refilled with nuts. The monkey so focused on the nuts that when the poacher appeared the monkey didn’t think to let go of the coconut and get away. The trapper knew the right tricks to kill the monkey and remove the paw for an ashtray.
I won’t argue that it’s a lovely and scary story used to try to get people to let go of old ideas and reach for the latest fad. And yes, snopes did try to debunk this in 2007. And in a realistic, logical world, it doesn’t make much sense with sizes and proportions.
But what if this story is an allegory for something that happens all the time?
What if we’re the monkey? We don’t have the wisdom and intelligence of the still, small Voice. And we don’t have the right inner nature to connect well enough to the still, small Voice to access His Wisdom.
And what if the coconut is actually an area of our lives where we either refuse to listen to our still, small Voice or we directly and intentionally rebel against the still, small Voice? Furthermore, what if the nuts are all the reasons we make this choice, all the rationalizations for why we are right and the still, small Voice is wrong (whoa, don’t want to even go down that path, so I’ll just keep it at a high level)?
The longer we hang on to those nuts, those ideas, those reasons, those rationalizations, the more the hand of our heart and soul hardens around them. We become less and less likely to let go and get rid of the coconut. And while we’re playing with the coconut and the nuts that support the need for the coconut, we lose sight of the bushes, where a wolf is sniffing the air or a lion is prowling, waiting to devour us, waiting to steal and kill and destroy.
The enemy of the still, small Voice is that wolf and that lion. He’s tricky and deceitful, and he even makes himself look like he serves the still, small Voice; yet he hates all that is good and pure and true and noble and lovely and right and admirable and excellent and praiseworthy. How do we let go of the nuts and coconut to escape the enemy’s wrath?
We make a conscious choice to drop the coconut mindset. We see the coconut and nuts as traps, knock-off baubles designed to pull us away from the still, small Voice. We focus on the thoughts and words of the still, small Voice so we start to think like Him. Then we take those thoughts and words and use throughout our speech and let them form our actions.
And that’s how you overcome the lovely bunch of the nut-filled coconuts of life…