Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Prisoner

Have you ever been a prisoner?
Have you ever been held captive?
Have you ever been enslaved?
Have you ever wanted freedom so bad you could taste it?

Hi, my name is David, and I’m a prisoner.

I’ve been a prisoner for a long time…living inside these walls made of bars of steel and stone.

There’s a window…it’s small…but it’s a window.
It lets me see the outside…where I could be…where I could have been all along. But…I’m a prisoner. It’s who I am. It’s who I’ll always be.

Oh, yeah, there’s a door. It’s made of those same steel bars.
It hangs there on the hinges. Hard, cold metal. Unforgiving.

And the lock. It can’t be picked. It just can’t be! I’ve tried to get out on my own. It takes that key…that annoying key that for years has rattled in my ears.
All the time I’ve been here…every time that abusive guard stuck it in the lock - and the mechanism would click, I’d get that sense of “freedom”. It was the sound of freedom. I could just taste it – only to be disappointed after an hour of pretend freedom behind the fences of the yard – only to be disappointed as the guard – a tyrant, that guy – would lead me back to my cell and lock the door behind me…laughing and mocking me as he’d walk away.

Ironically, it was a Friday when it all changed. Well, sort of changed. Inmates down the corridor were hollering at the guard…yelling their usual taunts. And they were screaming obscenities at a new guy. You know when a new guy is coming in because of those initial cat calls and insults. It’s painfully routine.

The guard approached my cell door. And, this new guy was with him. I thought…oh, great, a cellmate. No thanks. I’m a loner. I’m o.k. by myself. Stick him in with the guy next door.

But, they just stood there at my cell door…the guard and this guy. This new dude. He was kinda normal looking. Not really a rough and tough looking sort. Nothing that would have naturally drawn you to him. Kinda simple looking actually. A little homely. Intriguing at the same time. I couldn’t quite figure him out.
It was all a bit weird…almost like I knew him or he knew me …or something. Like I was in slow motion…but only a couple of seconds past before the man gave me that most startling message: You’re free. I looked at him with a blank stare, and he said it again...You’re free. I could tell that slave-driver of a guard wasn’t excited about it. But, he handed the keys over to this mystery man who proceeded to unlock the door. Then, he opened it and looked me square in the eye and repeated himself. “You’re free.” "How?” I asked. What happened? I don’t get it.

The guard pointed his thumb to the guy and grumbled, “It’s his doing…definitely not mine. I’d keep you here ‘til you rotted if it was up to me. I’d just as soon see you robbed blind, tortured, and killed…if it was up to me.”

“What do you mean, free?” I asked the stranger.

The guard chimed back in, “You’re free knucklehead. This nut paid your bail, your fines, your penalty…along with everyone else’s in this nuthouse. You can go.”

The simple man – the mystery man – looked at me and smiled. Then the two of them moved on to the next cell…making the same announcement from one cell to the next.

I sat on my bunk in disbelief and just listened as the two of them moved from cell to cell…floor to floor…telling the same story.

I could hear guys yelling…grabbing their stuff and running down the corridors…headed outside. OUTSIDE! Somebody said that the gates to the whole prison were standing wide open outside. I jumped to the window to see if I was in a dream. But…it was true. I could see ‘em running out. “I’m free!” they’d yell. “I’m outta here!”

They didn’t deserve to be outside! I knew I didn’t and I knew there were lots more like me and worse. Free? No way! They don’t deserve it, and I don’t either.
I stuck to my guns that day.

I stayed on that bunk…determined not to move. Determined to be what I was…a prisoner…determined to be who I am…a prisoner. It’s who I am…It’s who I’ll always be. I got myself into this mess and I’ll keep myself in it.

And, I have. I’ve stayed. Yeah, the door is still hanging there on the hinges. And, yeah, it’s still open. It’s been that way for three years now. They still feed me and they gave me a t.v. to keep me occupied. I just live through the people in the little box. It’s a meager existence. I wouldn’t call it a “life.” But I’m used to it. So, I’m not leaving. Freedom can’t be mine. It just can’t be…because I’m a prisoner.

Have you ever felt like this guy? Galatians 5:1 says, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." What doorway of freedom has Christ given to you that you have been hesitant to walk through? What is the cage that you are ready to walk out of today?

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