Walk Out and Be Free
By Dot Bowen
... to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’ “They will feed beside the roads and find pasture on every barren hill. Isaiah 49:9 (NIV)
During a recent trip to Rome, we wanted to find the place where many believe Paul was in prison. My husband took charge of the map and would say, I believe this is it! I would take several pictures only for him then to the say, No, I believe this is it! I think we walked in circles until we finally realized we had actually been walking in front of Paul’s prison without knowing it. It was so difficult to locate because it was under construction! I laughed and said, Are they going to decorate the prison to make it more comfortable? Something makes me think a prison is still a prison no matter how it’s decorated.
As we continued on our trip, I couldn’t stop thinking about Paul in prison. As I tried to envisioned Paul in prison, I began to reflect on the many years I’ve been in my own prison. I’ve never been in a Roman prison—or any government prison—only my self-made prison. When you are in prison, you’re not free to do what you enjoy. Prison prevents you from doing all you want to do. Let’s look at some of the “prisons” you may have lived in, or are currently living in:
- Needing the acceptance of others
Unfortunately, many of us have become so comfortable in “prison” we claim them as home.
Remember, prison keeps us from doing what we want to do. I didn’t know I wasn’t free until I realized real freedom came from within. Jesus set the captives free when He died on the cross and proclaimed, It is finished! He was setting us free! Why are so many who proclaim to be followers of Jesus trapped within the walls of loneliness, depression, abandonment, shame, bitterness, etc.? Imagine living in one of these prisons and Jesus coming to you with a key and unlocking your prison door. You want to walk out and into a life of freedom, but you’ve resigned to living within your own prison. You’ve made the best of your prison cell by decorating it with acceptance and believe others may be free, but you don’t believe you are free. You can’t imagine life without loneliness, depression, guilt, and shame. And then Jesus calls your name and tells you to come out of your prison cell and to enjoy the freedom He is offering. But you are chained by fear, believing your circumstances will never change. We must believe the same Jesus who died to set us free is the same Jesus who will walk with us in freedom.
Faith in Jesus is the key to unlock everything Jesus offers, and He is asking us to believe Him. However, even if we believe in Jesus, how do we find the strength to walk out when all we’ve ever known has been a life of imprisonment? The Holy Spirit is given to us the moment we decide to walk away from our life of imprisonment and give our lives to Jesus. And God’s Word tells us the Holy Spirit will enable us to walk in the life Jesus offers I’m not suggesting all we have to say is I believe! to be free. Words won’t set us free. Jesus alone sets the captive free.
Faith allows us to take the hand of Jesus, step away from the very things that have held us in bondage, and walk in freedom. We may find our hearts have been wounded in prison, but Jesus will heal our wounded hearts so we can be free! Free from bitterness, shame, guilt, depression, or whatever has held us captive.
Another key to freedom is the power of forgiveness. When we walk in forgiveness, we exchange loneliness with God’s presence, depression with God’s joy, abandonment with adoption as a child of God, acceptance of others with God’s acceptance, pride with God’s humility, shame and bitterness with God’s forgiveness. I exchange my bondage for God’s freedom. Jesus unlocked your prison door the day He walked out from the grave. He is waiting for you to walk out of your prison and enjoy the life only He can give.
- Reflect on the meaning of what it is to live in prison, and ask God to show you what prison you may be in that is keeping you from doing what you enjoy.
- Have you ever thought about the lies you have believed about God, yourself, or your circumstances as a place you have been held captive?
- What do you believe un-forgiveness has to do with being held as a prisoner in your own life?
- Are you willing to forgive yourself, others, and even God for allowing some difficult circumstances into your life? Can you refuse to allow people or circumstances to hold you captive?
- Is there something you have wanted to do but never felt “good enough” to do?
- Are you willing to trust God to show you what you need to do to pursue the desire He has placed in your heart?