There were no steel bars. No guards to prevent my escape. Yet I was a prisoner. A prisoner to thoughts and fears that immobilized me. The more I focused on my fears, the stronger my imaginary prison cell became, until there was no breaking free.
Negative thinking gave rise to all sorts of suspicions. I was afraid of what others thought of me. What they might be saying. Without being aware of it, I had fallen prey to the deceptive thought -trail of depression.
As the downward spiral continued, it was virtually impossible for me to concentrate on anything other than my perceived problems. I wanted to be free, but didn’t have the strength to leave this prison cell of my own making. How was I to escape? My thinking had to change.
Over the course of nine, long months, the Lord used family, friends, godly counselors, and medication to bring me out of the pit of depression. He reminded me of the plan He had for me – a plan to walk in victory, not defeat, “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (1 Corinthians 15:57; KJV). That was more than five years ago.
Today, I’m aware of how easy it is to find myself right back in ‘prison.’ Maybe not a captive to depression, but to one of any number of other ills: anger, pride, covetousness, envy. And the list goes on. How do I remain free? Jesus himself gives me a clue, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” (John 8:32). I must be intimately acquainted with God’s Word.
Thousands of years ago, two men found themselves in prison. A literal prison. Complete with steel bars, shackles, and guards. The prisoners had been whipped and treated poorly. Their crime? Preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Had I been in their place, I can only imagine the pity party that I would have thrown in my honor! But Paul and Silas’ response was much different, “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.” They may have been deterred from speaking to the townspeople, but they continued witnessing for Christ through their songs to the prison inmates. They refused to focus on themselves. Instead, they worshipped God and sang of Him to a captive audience.
Beautiful mindset. Keeping things in the proper perspective. Loving God first and being concerned about the needs of others. Look at the results, “And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed,” (Acts 16:26). The prisoners were free to leave, yet Paul and Silas took the opportunity to lead the jailer to Christ!
The Lord wants me to walk in victory, too. In fact, He’s issued a Get Out of Jail Free card exclusively for me. As I read His Word and yield myself to obey His will, I’ll maintain the proper focus and be able to stay out of ‘prison’!
Are you in ‘prison’? What step will you take to get out today?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Your truth can make me free. Help me identify any sin that holds me captive. Today I choose to put You first and truly care about others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.