The Prison of Our Past

Many people I know are in prison.  They just don’t know it yet.  They are not imprisoned for a crime.   In fact they walk around apparently as free as you or I, but they are in prison as surely as if there were bars, a lock and guards to keep them contained.

The bars are their past, their upbringing, their habits, their choices, their mistakes, their “heritage.”

They are in the prison of the past….the past sins they committed, the sins of others, the names they were called as kids, the things done to them when they had no voice or defense.  They walk around us in a prison they can’t escape.

I’m thinking of dozens of people as I write this.   Sad faces whose lives are dramatically captivated by the past.  We all know people who are chained by the past.

The imaginary bars are strong.

The imaginary locks are secure.

It’s nearly impossible to break them out.  They know nothing different, nothing better.  They are prisoners of their own past and are often completely unaware of what is happening to them.  They have no idea what freedom looks like…..prison is all they have ever known.

One former “prisoner” I’m very familiar with.  He had run from difficult situations ever since he was a young boy.  He ran a long time.  The bars were strong that he imprisoned  himself with.  He was unable to break out of his habit of running away from the problems and people in his life.

Imprisoned for so long that he almost did not escape from the cell when given the chance.   He always thought his problems were caused by everyone else, but in fact he was the problem.  He built that prison wall all by himself.

That prisoner was me.  But I was set free.  Set free by a loving and gracious God.  That despite my sin and the baggage of my past,  He forgave me and allowed me to be reconciled back to Him.  

You may be a prisoner yourself, captured by the past, unable to escape. There is freedom. There is a solution.   Jesus came to break open the prison and set the prisoners free, and yet all around us people live their lives in prison still.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”     Luke 4:18-19

Jesus declared that He came to proclaim good news – He came to set prisoners free.   Freedom from the enemy, freedom from the past, freedom from sin.   The bars have been constructed many years ago by each one of us, but today Jesus promises freedom.   He holds the keys to every cell.   Freedom is His desire for each of us….if we will simply ask for it.  For the freedom he brings is wrapped up in His death on the cross that paid the price for our sin.  Salvation is found in Christ and Christ alone..

I wish I could help those I meet see the prison cells they inhabit.  I think they would be surprised to realize they have been captive for so long.   The enemy tells them they are free to do as they wish, but the freedom of a prison cell is a mocking invitation to a freedom with no reality.

Jesus offers freedom to all.   A true freedom from the prison of the past, freedom from the grasp of the enemy and the false sense of freedom the world offers.   How much I long for my friends to truly find the freedom offered to each one of us…. maybe today is the right time for you to find the freedom that is found in Jesus Christ.
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