...EMBRACE THE UNKNOWN...
(Psa 79:11 ASV) Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee: According to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to death;
(Psa 102:20 ASV) To hear the sighing of the prisoner; To loose those that are appointed to death;
(Eph 3:1 ASV) For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus in behalf of you Gentiles,--
(Eph 4:1 ASV) I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called,
(Col 4:10 ASV) Aristarchus my fellow-prisoner saluteth you, and Mark, the cousin of Barnabas (touching whom ye received commandments; if he come unto you, receive him),
(2 Tim 1:8 ASV) Be not ashamed therefore of the testimony of our Lord, not of me his prisoner: but suffer hardship with the gospel according to the power of God;
(Phile 1:1 ASV) Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our beloved and fellow-worker,
(Phile 1:9 ASV) yet for love's sake I rather beseech, being such a one as Paul the aged, and now a prisoner also of Christ Jesus:
(Phile 1:23 ASV) Epaphras, my fellow-prisoner in Christ Jesus, saluteth thee;
Where are you? Seems like a silly question, doesn’t it? Why, “I’m right here”, or “I’m over there” you might say. What are you doing? “Reading this silly paper... duh..” (Who is this guy?) Okay. Why are you still afraid? O, now I’ve got your attention. You don’t have a clue what I’m talking about now, it just seems that I’ve taken off on a random tangent, doesn’t it? You couldn’t be more wrong. Search deep down inside yourself. I mean, really look. If you’re reading this, chances are you have made the decision to follow Christ, or maybe not; maybe you’re just curious. If you are a follower, you’ve chosen I hope at least to follow Him as best as you understand and know how to. But there is something, well, missing in your equation, isn’t there? I mean, you feel you are doing the best you can, but there is that one area in which you struggle, or maybe more than one, but the point is, there is a struggle. You wrestle with this problem, you try to lay it down, but darn it, it seems like that sock with a bad case of static cling, it just keeps getting stuck on you. “Well, let’s see... if I do this, or this, then maybe this problem will go away... But if I do this, it might just get worse. If I wait, maybe somebody will show me or tell me how to get this thing off me, but what if I don’t like what they say, or it’s just too complicated! What, who, where, when....” Over and over it revolves around you, and then you revolve around it, until it takes on a life of its own, one of dizzying proportions.
Friend, let me tell you something. You are institutionalized. This problem, this gray area in your life has become your prison, and you just can’t seem to operate without it, that is why you hang onto it. Your really aren’t struggling with it; no, what you are fighting against is the idea in the back of your mind of how in the world can you get along without it. It fits like second skin. When you get afraid, you lean on it, it gives you a prop in which to turn to, so that if you stumble, “Well, it was this that made me fall so I guess I just have to work on it some more.” So you pick it up, turn it around, look at it from every angle and decide you can’t really do anything with it right now, so you stick it in your back pocket and... what? You go back out into the court yard of the prison and walk around the track, same direction, same pace until you formulate a plan to “break” out. When you see that hole in the fence ahead of you, you reach into your back pocket, throw that little block out in front of you and trip right over it, so you don’t have to go through that hole, into the unknown. That is what this is all about. It’s easier to embrace the devil you know, than to embrace the unknown. That is why as human beings, we have these crutches we cling to, so we have an excuse for our actions when we fall. “You know, if only I...” Fill in the blank, you’ll see yourself. I know I did.
We are always going to be a prisoner in this life. We are a prisoner to this mortal body, a prisoner to time, a prisoner to the choices we make... The real question we should be asking ourselves is this: do we want to spend our days wandering around a eight foot by six foot cell, hobbled by our crutches, or do we want to wander about a different prison yard, under open skies?
Look at the scriptures again at the top of this epistle. Prisoners. That is what the apostles considered themselves. Prisoners to Christ. Institutionalized. They didn’t move, breathe, eat, sleep, dress, walk about, sit, bathe and so on and so forth without being told what to do by the greatest jail keeper there is, the Holy Ghost. What a concept. They weren’t afraid. They didn’t have to think about there next move, it was already planned for them. They didn’t carry a stumbling block in their back pocket, there was no need to stumble. They were led, so any pitfalls before them were already removed, or they were guided around them. The keeper of the jail held them up, provided for them, protected them, taught them. They in turn gladly embraced the unknown as it lay before them, content to wander this vast expanse of a prison at His direction, knowing that whatever awaited them, it was going to be all right. They might face troubles, trials, or tribulation, but, since they were prisoners and under direction, it was going to be okay.
The prison of the Cross is without walls, but not without limits. Borders are open, but boundaries exist. Guards aren’t visible, but they are always there. What I’m saying is that in this prison, all you have to do is posture yourself to receive the guidance and instruction you so desperately want. The unknown awaits, embrace it. In the courtyard, there is always shade, cast by the shadow of the cross, and the prisoners are free to roam, for the keeper will order their steps to keep them from falling. Contrast this to the prison you make for yourself: no direction, no guidance, no shade from the heat of the day. You are always afraid for around that corner, something is lurking. The guards don’t care about you, you’re just a number. The courtyard is strewn with broken bodies that have tripped over the boulders in their back pocket, the rut of the path you are walking getting deeper with each step. When this rut gets six foot deep, it’ll be to late to get out. Take the hole in the fence. Accept the shackles of the Holy Ghost and let Him keep you. If you stay where you are, there is no parole. Being a prisoner of fear and want, is to be sentenced to death. Being a prisoner of Christ, this sentence comes with a pardon, with a new name, a white robe, and life eternal. You are already taking directions from a prison keeper: why not posture yourself to take those directions from One who loves you? If you are going to be a prisoner anyway, why not be one in the freedom of the Cross? Empty your back pocket. In the cross, there is no need for a crutch, Jesus Christ Himself will hold you up, He will oversee your ways. Take a life off prisoner, put His on.