Not a Prisoner

Pastor DaronCrossLife Blog

What controls you? What holds you back? What bad behavior do you return to again and again, but each time you vow it won’t happen again? What shapes your identity?

Circumstances. Situations. Experiences. They’re impactful and defining in our lives. Without clear conviction in something deeper and more meaningful than what’s going on around you, your circumstances will control you. 

Tension at work robs people of joy. Financial uncertainty creates fear and anxiety. Children going off to preschool or college for the first time darken parents with a big black hole—the family is just not the same any more.

One of the marks of following Jesus is walking through any situation without it dominating life as being in charge of everything.

Two Christian missionaries, Paul and Silas, were beaten, whipped, and thrown into a dark dungeon because they were teaching about Jesus. But they didn’t act like prisoners. Because they didn’t believe that the prison bars and shackles were in control.

They sang Christian songs. They prayed for fellow prisoners. They shared their faith in Jesus. 

God decided that an earthquake would rattle their prison doors open. More than prison doors rattled. The jailer was shaken. He thought the prisoners had escaped, but Paul and Silas didn’t go anywhere. Again, they didn’t see themselves as prisoners. 

The jailer wanted that kind of faith and certainty. He asked how he could have it. They told him, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household” (Acts 16:31). He did! The jailer put in charge of the prisoners had become the prisoner of men who knew they were free. Jesus changes everything!

Who should be a prisoner of their circumstances? Nobody.

Who should be a prisoner of anxiety or back pain? Nobody. Who should be a prisoner of bad choices made in college or credit card debt from impulsive shopping? Nobody. Who should be a prisoner of abuse, of being too busy for self-care and wellness, of cancer or dementia or a boss you can never please? Nobody. Those circumstances may truly happen to anyone, they are real, and often cause consequences. They may or may not be your fault, but none of them are bigger than Jesus. 

Circumstances can’t control your life because it belongs to Jesus.

Jesus once described his mission: “to proclaim good news to the poor … to proclaim freedom for the prisoners … to set the oppressed free” (Luke 4:18). Live free today, no matter what your circumstances!

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, rattle open the prison doors that are closed around me only in my mind. I invite you into my circumstances, which you rule as Lord, and trust in your love and wisdom. Help me to live in freedom. Amen.

FURTHER MEDITATION: Read the whole story in Acts 16:22-34. Your faith during troubling circumstances can be a powerful witness!