The blinding stream of light swept across the courtyard. It wouldn’t return for another five minutes, I had it timed perfectly. Lying flat on my belly, head raised, forearms in position and toes dug in, I began an army-crawl across the compound. Inching toward a hole in the wall, something grabbed my ankle chains. I kicked to break free, but to no avail. Pain shot through my arms as I lugged my body toward that hole. Freedom was twenty yards away, but this thing held me back. With each pull forward, I’d be yanked back two.
“Let me go!” I whisper-shouted.
“No way!” it cackled.
“I’m not guilty! I’m innocent I tell you. I must break free!”
“You can’t, you will never be free!”
In the pitch-blackness of the night, the reality of that statement enveloped me in despair. The struggle was too great and I felt myself go limp. My body skidded and scraped across the pavement as it dragged me back into the shadows.
Although camouflaged, the hole is still there and freedom is attainable. I’ll try again someday when I’m stronger. But for now, prison is where I live.
The past two weeks we’ve talked about how to break free from our own personal prisons. We looked at one created of situations or physical conditions beyond our control and another, constructed by someone else. However today, we are considering a prison of our own making.
Construction of this penitentiary could have begun with a bad choice made years ago and just now, we are suffering the consequences. Possibly, we’ve been held captive by a habit or emotion that consumes our thoughts causing a slightly sarcastic or rebellious nature. Maybe it’s as simple as a mountain of dishes, piles of laundry, and/or a cluttered home with dust an inch thick. It could be any number of things. But our prison, built little by little over the years, now has high, encroaching walls topped with barbed wire.
We’ve tried to break free in the past, but one topsy-turvy week caused our momentum to fizzle and we were dragged back in despair. Sensing the impossibility of escape, we slap on a plastic smile and go about our daily lives hoping no one will discover this secret struggle.
Here’s some good news. Jesus said, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty [freedom] to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound…” (Isaiah 61:1, Luke 4:18)
I can hear you screaming, “I know Jesus came to set me free. I’ve asked the Lord to remove this thing and help me to be the person He created me to be. I’ve rejected this evil and even had others pray for deliverance, but it’s still there. What more can I do?”
Escaping from this type of prison begins with recognition of our role in building it.
Almost every prisoner in jail today believes he or she is innocent. They have rationalized and justified their behavior, nevertheless the evidence says otherwise.
Since it is the same with us, we must be honest about our struggle. What is the real reason we are in prison? How and when did we lay the first brick? Try not to sugarcoat it; just lay it out there, asking God to reveal truth.
King David offered himself a reasonable explanation for committing adultery with Bathsheba and secretly murdering her husband, Uriah. He continued to deceive himself until the prophet Nathan confronted him saying, “…You are the man!...” (II Samuel 12:7) Faced with his sin, David repented praying, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness…Blot out my transgressions. Wash me…and cleanse me from my sin…I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin…Against You, You only, have I sinned…” (Psalm 51)
What has us bound and in prison may not be as heinous as David’s sin, but in God’s eyes, sin is sin. We may not want to see it as sin, but I can tell you from personal experience, it is.
Repentance is never easy and claiming we reject the evil that has us bound is not repentance.
|prison leg shackles - www.wikipedia.org|
David said when he kept silent about his sin, he felt a dryness, like drought in summer. (Psalm 32) He understood we are only, truly set free, when we acknowledge our sin and guilt. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)
Then, with a flash of light into our soul, the Lord severs those shackles and we run, full speed, to freedom.