One of my friends posted recently about the prisons that we are all stuck in, and the fact that many of us may share the same cells. If you want to hear her own words, click here. Basically, her church group is studying the letters of Paul, that he wrote while he was in prison. While trying to find some correlation between Paul and herself, she found that she has her own metaphorical prisons that she is stuck in. She challenged us to think about the prisons in our own lives, and then to write about it. So even though it’s a little late, here I go.
There are many challenges in my life that come from my own doing. Some of these are little fences that I can hop over and move on from, but some are metal bars that hold me in. And just like a repeat offender, I end up behind those same metal bars time after time, despite my desire to move forward and leave prison behind. In the New Testament, a young man asks Christ what he must do to inherit eternal life. Christ tells the man that he must keep the commandments to which the man responds that he has kept the commandments since he was young. Christ then tells him to sell all that he has, give to the poor, and then he will inherit eternal life. Unfortunately, the man “was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions” (Mark 10:22). One thing. The young man was asked to do one more thing in order to inherit eternal life, the greatest blessing of all. Yet that one thing was something he wasn’t willing, at least at that time, to do. Perhaps I am in the same prison as this young man. No, I don’t have great possessions, but I do have things in my life that I am not always willing to give up, even if it means I will gain something greater in return. I want people to think highly of me, to think I’m funny, and that I’m athletic, that I’m smart, and that I can handle anything that comes at me without getting angry or shedding a tear. But is this really who I am? Are these ideals helping me to become who I actually want to be? At first glance, they don’t look so bad. But when I make a joke that puts someone down in an effort to get laughs out of people,or when I continue to study or to workout instead of heeding a prompting I have to help someone, I actually drive myself further away from where I want to be and I find myself once again behind prison walls. Not only do both of these situations cause others to be hurt, but I delay my own progression as well. I can still be funny, smart, athletic, and strong without being mean and without letting myself me imprisoned. It all comes down to what I am willing to give up in order to follow Christ. In Christ there is freedom, there is grace, and there is mercy, none of which can be found in a prison cell. “For with God, all things are possible” (Mark 10:27). May we all have the strength to let go of those things holding us back with the knowledge that God will replace them with things much greater.