Transformation Meditations: 4. Prisoners?
Isa 61:1b He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners
The work of the Messiah is to transform us, to redeem us, to save us, and we are looking at some of the aspects of his mandate in Isaiah 61 and reiterated by Jesus in Luke 4. Yesterday we considered the broken-hearted; today we consider captives and prisoners.
Perhaps when we think of drug addicts or alcoholics, the concept of someone being a prisoner to their addiction is easy to understand. Thinking about humanity being prisoners needs a little more thought. Accepting that there may still be aspects of our present lives that indicate we are still prisoners, requires honesty and grace.
Now it seems there is specific similarity in these two words – captive and prisoner. They both imply in their meaning having had their freedom taken away by someone or something else. A definition of a ‘captive’ is ‘a person who has been taken prisoner’. Definitions of a ‘prisoner’ include, ‘a person captured and kept confined by another’ and ‘a person who is or feels confined or trapped by a situation’.
The first place we can be captives is in our head. First there are the lies we believe. Someone told us again and again when we were young that we were rubbish, worthless, failures, and so now we believe it; it is ingrained in our thinking, but it is a lie. You are made in the image of God and precious to God, you are someone, someone special. If you’ve become a Christian, God loved you so much that He sent His Son to die for you (Jn 3:16,17)
Second, there is the anguish we feel in our minds as we battle with either guilt or fear. Perhaps we did fail and maybe it was big-time and so yes, we were guilty, but Jesus died for that failure, died for that guilt and shame, and having confessed it to him, you can now be free from it. In fact if you feel it is still there and you have confessed it, realise it is the voice of the enemy you are listening to. Draw near to the Lord, resist the enemy and tell him to leave with his lies (Jas 4:7).
But then we may be captive to bad circumstances. Maybe there are those to whom we are related, or those who are over us at work, who impose on us, abuse us, and demean us. Find a spiritual friend or church leader, share it with them; you probably need support to break free from that relationship. It doesn’t have to continue. Stop being a prisoner to other people.
Some of us will be prisoner to a creeping illness, or an infirmity, or just creeping old age. We can’t escape it. We can pray against it and we can ask others to pray for us, but if at the end of that it still seems that this is the path the Lord wants you to walk, remember that His grace is always there for you and as He said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9) Those are not glib or trite words but the truth. Even in weakness, even in limitation, His power can be present.
Be a person who draws near to Him and knows His presence and in that presence, you will find power to cope; not merely to survive but to glow, even in adversity, even in affliction, even in illness. You may be a worn ‘earthen vessel’ but you contain the glory of God (2 Cor 4:6,7). May you know it. “He has sent me to … proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”