Saturday, April 26, 2008

Prison Break

I attended a funeral for the father of new friend of mine recently. In our understanding he died too soon. He was only in his early 60's. Although I never had the opportunity to meet this man, his funeral impacted my life. The tributes and memories shared by family and friends were beautiful. We viewed a slide presentation set to music, tracing the journey of his life. The one thing that really spoke to my heart was that this man had truly lived.

He was an adventurer. Fear didn't hold him captive. He lived out loud. He wasn't afraid to follow the dreams God had placed in his heart, and yet he didn't take foolish risks. He enjoyed life to the full. In many ways he has gone from living to living.

My life in comparison would be such a shadow. Many of us would be likened to "dead men walking" in contrast. Oh, maybe outwardly we're going through the motions. Jumping through all the right hoops. We know how to play the "Game of Life". For generations it's been the same. We've read the rules. We know the expectations. Years go by, but our passion is getting buried deeper and deeper. We are allowing ourselves and others to dig our own grave...only we're still breathing. We're being buried alive.

I read recently of someone who, though living, described themselves as dead. Have you been there? Have you been to that dark place that numbs the heart. Apathy is your new normal. You feel indifferent...listless. You've lost interest in all your surroundings. Dejection and weariness characterize your existence. You are no longer a participant, but a spectator. You have eyes that see, without seeing. Ears that hear without hearing. A heart still capable of loving has become your prison. You feel empty, drained, alone.

Unbelievers are not the only ones held captive. Many Christians live life behind locked doors. Self-imposed cells. Discouragement, pain, rejection, insecurity, fear, accusations, past, present, future all build up walls. Gasping for breath you feel smothered, yet weakness and familiarity keep you hostage. It's often comforting to stay in the security of this new normal. Realizing work and effort may lay ahead, awakening holds too many uncertainties. A strange part of you enjoys the attention, pity and compassion from others. Silence is your truest friend and your most consuming enemy.

The problem? Right now life seems too overwhelming. Negatives far out-weigh the positives. Somehow your focus has shifted from what can be, to what is. Often it's a slow fade. Unfulfilled desires in a marriage, demanding children, a stressful job, painful, abusive memories, illness, ...disappointment in God. Oh, you'd probably not come right out and say that, but somewhere along the line, you've felt God has let you down. You had plans. You had desire. Your life was filled with enthusiasm and drive. You've been robbed in the cruellest way possible. You don't have to worry about being one step closer to the grave, you're already there.

How can I write of this? I've been there. I am all too familiar with premature death. But, can I offer you hope? If you are still breathing, you are not dead. Like a seed that may sit dormant all winter long, you are experiencing a winter in your soul. The season will change. Like the story of the "Secret Garden", there are treasures in you to be unearthed. Darkness can have a valuable purpose.

I don't know what God will do to call you back to life again, but He will. God is a God of Resurrection. He specializes in bringing the dead back to life. He wants to see you running and leaping. He comes to you, as He did to the blind beggar named Bartimaeus and asks, "What do you want Me to do for you?" He will not force Himself on you. He holds the keys to your release in open, nail-scarred hands and offers them to you. He is not the one holding you in bondage. Self-imposed shackles are the only things holding you hostage. Today could be your Prison Break!

Acts 16:26 "Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose."


Marilyn said...

I can sure relate to this today! I feel like I had gotten pretty down in the pit in the last several years. My oldest son was in Iraq twice with the Marine Corps and was almost killed the last time. Then my father was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and was sick until a few months ago when he was eternally and everlastingly healed and taken Home to be forever with the Lord. So for a long time I felt like I was treading water and going nowhere. But I am feeling the strength of new life in the past months and it feels good!

Your Christian friendship has been a part of that healing I am sure!

God bless you....

P.S. I'm making the cake this afternoon! :)

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

I ponder tonight how quick the leap can be...from life to death and back again. I can be "up" one moment, only to quickly retreat to a dark place. I try and stay saturated in the Word and to surround my life with the "life giving" force of God.

It just amazes me how quick the enemy is to bring his attack. Thankfully, I'm quicker to catch on to his schemes and know how to counter attack with the truth of God's Word.

Thank you for the solid truth penned so beautifully.


Kelley at Aroma of Joy said...

You have just described the last week or two of my life. I have been really "pondering" how I got here. I was loving life and having a good old time when I woke up in a pit of listless apathy...

My husband and I went to church tonight and the whole sermon was about Mary & Martha. I realize I have been so caught up focusing on and worrying about details, that I have not been spending enough time at the feet of Jesus and "resigning" all responsibilities that are not mine (worries over which I have little or no control).

I need to live a lot more like Mary and less like Martha. I know this so why is it so hard??

Thanks for the encouraging post, I will be looking to add a little "life to my life"!!


heather said...

you're right Joy, I feel like I am being buried alive... i feel empty, drained and alone.
Just today i realized that I feel like God has let me down, that He has failed me, that if true faith is not "believing there is a God" but really "trusting in God to have your best at heart" I don't have that faith, or it is weak. I am weak and helpless and left gasping for air as you said.
I want to run and leap for joy. I want to be free. but i am scared of the responsibility that freedom will bring.
I am scared of my thoughts... i am livign, but dead... a 'dead woman walking' right now. and woudl rather be in the arms of jesus than to live this way any longer.
can you tell last night was a very difficult night, with little sleep?
thank you for your encouragement, prayers, and this timely post.
Love you,

MrsJoeB said...

Powerful words. I have been held prisioner, I have lived dangerously, I have been challenged this weekend to think about it all through my pastors sermon. I posted it today. It ties in here in a way. It all comes back to God in our life-that is what matters most!
In His Graces~Pamela

Amy said...

What a powerful post!
Thank you for the encouraging words.
God Bless,

Yolanda said...

I'm so thankful that He allows a Prison Break, that He breaks our chains!


E-Dub said...

I found you on LPM blog...and I just wanted to let you know that God really just used this post to speak to me right now. This is my first visit here, and I SO needed this. Thanks for putting it out there; it means something to me! (:

SweetPea said...

Thanks for your visit to my blog. I'm so glad you found me through Elaine's. I deeply appreciate your kind words and encouragement about my posting. If you have time, I would ask you read my very first post about "He Spoke". That shows how far I've come in this blogging ministry. I love to write and I was thinking I couldn't do it. Comment after comment has told me distinctly different. I believe that to be God speaking through others like yourself to me, trying to drive the point into my stubborn head.

My roller coaster ride the last ten months has been a blessing spirtually but it does take it's toll on my emotions. I've so ready to get off the fast roller coaster and slow down a pit.

My pastor did a sermon series based on a great book called: "In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day". Now it sounds like there can't be anything much worse than that. It is a very quick and short read but oh so powerful about our pits and what God wants to do with them and during them.

Come back sometime.

grey like snuffie said...

So many circumstances can feel like we've had the life sucked out of us. I do believe there are seasons of rest, where we must sit at His feet and walk in silence. It is so hard to be in one of those after being so alive before. Especially when its been a few years in this quiet place. But this was nice to read, someone affirming what I have been hanging onto. Thank God He doesn't walk away and leave us to wallow. Breakthroughs---hoping for them, but just can't even imagine how He will pull this one out. Kind of stirs some joy of the unexpected again.

Robin said...

Beautiful Joy.

Time does not permit me to post a comment that fully expresses my response to your post, but it resonated with me; some of the language you've used, I've used myself. You know me from the inside out.

Thank you for not treating these winter seasons as "failings"; for not assigning blame. The truth is, God DOES change us in those moments, they're not just intended to bring us pain...there's purpose and intent (for our good and His glory).

deb said...

Joy, saw the post on Blognosh ~

thank you for words I needed today.

hope you are well