by Dyann Shepard
I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33 NIV
I have a family member who is in prison. It’s painful and sad. I write regularly and pray for their safety. I try to imagine confinement. How would I cope? It is difficult for me to be restricted on a plane even for a few hours. While thinking about my relative, the Lord seemed to say, “Maybe you know more about being in prison than you think.” What?
I began reflecting on how much time and energy I waste being held captive: not by bars of steel but the invisible bars of fear and worry. I hide behind palatable words like concern or preparing for the worst-case scenario. These words make me feel better about my anxiety and fearfulness.
In my daily time with Jesus, I noticed Scriptures with words like captive or being entangled: words that described retrained movement, lack of freedom, and forward momentum. God showed me I was in a self-imposed prison. I was choosing fear over faith. I was like the servant whose master gave him one talent; instead of investing it, he hid it out of fear of losing it.
God doesn’t want me to stay imprisoned. He came to set us free as promised in Isaiah 61:1, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.” (ESV) More and more, I am learning to make a conscious choice to meditate on these verses and others, like II Timothy 1:7 “ For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (NKJV)
Each time I choose faith over fear, I strengthen my spiritual core.
Having a sturdy spiritual core prepares us for the unexpected and unknown. Indeed, three years ago, “sheltering in place” for almost 24 months was unthinkable. Overnight our lives shrunk, and we were physically confined. We were all reminded that much of our life really is out of our control. We experienced another type of prison without bars.
Living in the unchartered is challenging. We face the unexpected and often heartbreaking on a daily basis: war in Ukraine and recent massacres in Boston and Uvalde. I often feel helpless. Each time I must choose: how I will respond? Will it be fear and despair or trust and hope?
It is a moment-by-moment choice. The Lord is reminding me that the world is constantly changing. He is not. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I can decide not to grow weary in what I can’t control and look for ways to reflect the love and peace of Jesus. The Lord is showing me my internal confinement keeps me from being helpful, peaceful, and the person God created me to be.
As we face the world’s uncertainties, we have the daily choice: offer a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to our God or complain about all we don’t have or might lose. Let’s take this opportunity to ask the Lord where we can shine His light of love, hope, encouragement, and provision to those less fortunate. With prayer and action working together, God will enlarge our hearts and manifest His love through our lives. We can live as free women, no longer captive, regardless of the circumstance.
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word” II Thessalonians 2:16, 17 NASB.
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Dyann Shepard loves to share the power of God to redeem, restore and transform lives through life’s most tumultuous storms. An author, speaker, and Bible study teacher, she was formerly on staff with CRU, a Stephen’s minister, and a retired CPA. Dyann’s passion is about experiencing God’s presence in our daily lives as we open our hearts to Him. Her writings can be found at www.personalparables.com and in various Christian magazines including Just Between Us and The Joyful Life. She is the author of a study of Proverbs Wisdom: Capturing the Power of our Words to be released in June 2022.
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