Repost with a new ending. . .
Thinking of my new friend Greg, who spent so much time in prison in the past, I pondered again. . .we look so different from one another and our paths in life are so different from each other's, but are there any similarites? Greg at one time, actually many times, was behind the prison door. So was I. His was made of iron, mine wasn't but it still trapped me. My bars were the ones called shyness, extreme shyness, timidity and insecurities that held me locked in silence; hid me in the background. . .right where I wanted to be. Actually, no, I didn't want to be there, but it was too scary to come out.
Slowly though, over time, God began to work on me, pulling me out of my comfort zones. Prison bars and comfort zones do not seem to go together and yet I think we get comfortable in what we know even if it is not best for us. Those kind of bars lock us in where blessings cannot easily reach. But God knows what is best and He knows how to reach past the bars.
Over the years, I've come out of many comfort zones. God led me out of the doors that the enemy tried to keep closed. Sometimes still, even though it's been many years, I still feel sometimes I'd rather be back in the comfort zone; all eyes off me, blending into the background, but God says no.
" ...let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven"
I used to have trouble with this verse, because I use to think that if I let them see the good deeds, it would come across as bragging. . .look at me. This was the last thing someone like myself wanted. But God began to show me that this verse is not about me, (so narcissistic), but it is about Him. He wants us to show what He has done through us. . .it's all about Him and THAT, I can do!
Prison can be different things to different people. And the prisoner can be so well dressed, put together exquisitely, appearing very successful, and even walking through church doors every week and yet stand behind bars, bars invisible to the outside world but are very real to this individual. And they can be just as strong as Greg's steel prison bars were. . .bars such as unforgiveness, anger, resentments, addictions, feelings of inadequicies...____________(fill in the blank).
I've discovered as a believer that Jesus has already unlocked our prison doors. But sometimes we're still standing in the cell as if it is still closed. The door is open. . .freedom is right there. . .it's just a matter of stepping forward and out that prison door. I think many times we don't see that open door because we are focusing on ourself which means we are looking downward and inward. We need to look up and out and see Jesus on the other side of that door reaching His hand out to take hold of ours.
"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous Right Hand."
Over the last 10-12 years, I have been learning to take that Hand and walk forward.
Never in a million years did I ever imagine I would find myself purposely sitting on a park bench and more than once, next to what was a big, bad, dude, ex- convict, asking him about his life and sharing Jesus! But Jesus is who brought us together and made us friends. Isn't that just like God. . .to bring two unlikely people together to talk about HIM! Greg is not behind steel bars anymore, but he has been behind others; bars similiar to the ones I had and also the bars, chains of addictions. I'm praying he will realize soon that he can be totally free. He just has to walk forward, reach out and take the Almighty's Hand.
. . .the Lord sets the prisoners free.
. . .the Lord sets the prisoners free.
Greg was set free August 20, 2012. He reached up and took that Mighty Hand and walked into the kindgdom of God, a place with no bars. I keep humming now that Greg has been freed. . .'My chains are gone, I've been set free. . . . .
I'm being set free too.