(This was originally published for theNortheastern District Alliance Women.)
Corrie Ten Boom, one of my heroes of the faith, once said, "Only to those who have been in prison does freedom have such great meaning." I've only visited jail a couple times, and each time it was not a fun experience. I thought about how I have the ability to travel all over, to sit outside on my porch in the morning, to hop in the car and drive to see a friend for coffee, or to simply make the decision to sleep one hour later. I have the freedom to make choices about the way my day looks.
I understand that losing those freedoms and being put in prison usually comes as a consequence from an action that a person did. Even in Corrie's case this is true - her family's decision to help save people was honorable and brave, but they understood there would be severe repercussions if they were caught. However, the people being put into the camps were made prisoners simply because of where they were born and who they were. They had not made any choices to lead them there and had no say in the decision. Sometimes we make our own jail; other times people seem to control our freedom.
Most of us have probably not been in a physical prison, but I am sure that all of us have been prisoners in our hearts and minds at some point. There was a time in my life when I dreaded every single night. The darkness would fall and all my fears would surface. It was as though I was literally being haunted by my own thoughts, anxieties, and terror. I would lie awake with the TV on until my eyelids grew too heavy to stay open anymore - but that would be late in the night and I was never getting enough sleep to function. I was in my own type of prison and I knew it, but I had no idea what to do about it. When you live entangled in the grip of fear, you can't think rationally. It's a vicious cycle.
All throughout the Bible we read see the theme of freedom. The Israelites were set free from Pharoah, yet found themselves slaves once again - this time to fear and complaining. We see the opposite as Paul sits in prison and sings praises to God despite being bound in shackles. Who was more free?
My journey to freedom started a long time ago as I sat with my Bible and started to really understand who God was. In the times before I would seek out verses that spoke of protection and healing. I would ask God to save me and help me not be scared. There is nothing wrong with these prayers, and I learned a lot of scripture through the process that has helped with the renewing of my mind. But the true act of being set free came when I stopped focusing on me and started learning more about who HE is. Romans 8:31 says, "What, then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?" My freedom from the chains of fear of the supernatural came when I started to stand on the claims of who GOD is. Only then could I truly shake off the chains and stand free in the name of Jesus. Because of His work on the cross, his love for me, and who I am in this belief.
Whether your jailor is your own self and you live in guilt, shame, and regret, or the actions of someone else has put you in a prison of anger and unforgiveness, there is hope! I found that when I started to fall in love with Him more I could use the weapons of my praise and thanksgiving in this battle. He continues to show me areas where I need to do this, and sometimes I grow weary. But I live in hope an expectation that he who is able to do immeasurably more than all I could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20) is living inside of me and guiding me every step of the way.