“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me … to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound …” (Isaiah 61:1, ESV)
You may feel as if you are locked in a prison. You think you are trapped in your circumstances. There seems like no way out. You have obligations that weigh you down that you can not get out from underneath.
Jesus has come to proclaim liberty to the captives and open the prisons to those who are bound. There are physical prisons in this world. There are also spiritual prisons people find themselves locked into. An obvious one is the prison of addiction. But there are also more subtle prisons in which millions of people feel trapped. One of those prisons is the prison “no choice.”
But you are freer than you ever imagine. You have the power to chose a different future. You may not be able to choose how other people will act, but you have the freedom to choose how you will respond. You may not be able to change the past, but you can choose a different future. There may be a wall in front of you, but you can go over, around, through, or under.
But what is it that keeps you locked in your circumstances? Here are a few things that keep you bound.
Locked in Fear
Often, it is not that we can’t choose a different course. It is that we are afraid to choose a different course. We are familiar with our prison of “no choice.” We are comfortable in that there are no surprises. We know our surroundings. If we go in a different direction, there are unknowns. The way might be difficult. We could fail.
Don’t let fear be your excuse to stop you from walking in freedom. The way may be difficult, but know that you do not go it alone. God is with you.
Locked in Your Emotions
So many of our choices in life are based upon how we feel. We make choices based on our emotions. What this means is that we don’t always make rational decisions.
Emotions are a powerful force. There are times when we are overwhelmed by our emotions. We are tempted to believe that we are powerless over them.
This is where the Holy Spirit comes in. The Spirit of God gives the power to overcome your emotions. Don’t hold your thoughts captive to your emotions. Let your thoughts be held captive to Christ. Your life will not be defined by your emotions.
Locked in the Expectations of Others
Another powerful force working against us is the expectations of others. We want to be well-liked. We seek the approval of others. We want to fit in. So we give in to the desires of others, even when it goes against our better judgment.
Don’t let others dictate your life. Do you seek the approval of God? Or do you seek the approval of man? It is your life to live. In the end, the only one you will be held accountable to is Jesus.
Locked in the Urgent
There will always be urgent matters to attend. There are days when you are running from one thing to the next. There seems like no end to the to-do list. At the end of the day, you wonder what you accomplished. Then the next day repeats the same pattern.
The problem when you are running from the most urgent thing the next most urgent thing, you might never get to what is most important. There are some things that are urgent only because we make them urgent. There are other things that may be urgent, but if they are not accomplished it will be of little consequence.
When you are constantly being pulled by the urgent, start your day by listening to God. Let him guide your path. Let him give you the strength to make the tough decision to set aside urgent matters for important matters. And when there are urgent matters that cannot be set aside, let God give you the wisdom to help you determine how these things might be automated, delegated, or deferred. I am amazed at how God multiplies the minutes when we make his priorities to be our priorities.
- In which prison to you find yourself trapped most often: The prison of a) Fear, b) Emotions, c) Expectations of others, d) The Urgent?
- What steps can you take to walk in the freedom that God gives you?
Lord, too often I feel locked in a prison. You have given me freedom by your Holy Spirit. But still, I chose to remain imprisoned when I could choose freedom. Grant me the courage to let go of the burdens I allow to hold me down. Help me to walk boldly and courageously on the path you have set out for me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.