I have an axe to grind. Pretty appropriate, considering it’s Halloween. For those of you reading this, I will forthrightly state it is my least favorite holiday…except for the little two-bite candy bars. They rock! (Or keep you awake on a sugar high when indulged in late at night. A word to the wise: be sure you enjoy your chocolate facial BEFORE 10 pm!).
The reason I dislike Halloween so heartily is the ‘who’ behind the essence of fear and torment that characterizes the darkest side of this annual hailed event. My two tiny grandkids could no doubt take a prize as ‘cutest little trick ‘r treaters’ – but I’m not talking at a surface level here of chocolate and cute tots. I’m reminded this evening of what it feels like to be on the other side of prison doors, having spent a good deal of time on the ‘inside.’ Not real steel ones (I have a squeaky clean record, for the record…) but internal prison doors that at some point in my life clanged shut with a decided finality, IF the enemy of my soul would have his way.
Frankly, October 31’s commemoration is simply one of 365 days a year that the enemy and his dark-spirited hordes roam about seeking whom they will devour. Or kill, steal, and destroy. Sound like fun to be on the other end of his search? I assure you – from firsthand knowledge and experience – it’s not. He won’t stop until he’s satisfied, and if that takes a lifetime – or a life – that’s fine with him. He rather likes amusing himself with the cat and mouse strategy that’s all in the game of messing with people’s lives.
As for me, having become beat up, used up, and worn out from being the mouse too many times, it was like a shaking of prison doors when I realized I was already free and just didn’t know it! I didn’t act, talk, walk, or make decisions like I was a free woman who was free in Christ. Mind you, not free in my own abilities, but liberated into HIS ABILITIES. I may have looked free to some people, but don’t you know…we always give ourselves away? It can be seen in our actions, heard in our speech, noticed in our ‘if it walks like a duck’ waddle, and evidenced by the decisions we make for all to take note of.
How can I tell you when it was that my already free state in Christ was proclaimed to me? I can’t. But like the sure light of dawn that suddenly breaks forth on a new morning, it spilled over on me suddenly one day some years ago. It was like a personal reenactment of Acts 16:26, “…and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains were unfastened.” (NAS77)
The ensuing years have been a slow but thorough reestablishing of God’s foundations in my life that continues even now. As one minister of the Gospel declared a couple years ago as I heard him teach – “Prepare for God’s shaking as you begin to pray ‘God, establish my being in you.’”
If you begin to earnestly plead for God’s cementing of your feet on His solid rock and out of the clutches of our dark enemy, like Paul and Silas in the Acts 16 passage, who were thrown into prison but at midnight began singing praises to God in the midst of imprisonment, there will be a two-fold shaking that begins to take place. The foundations of your prison doors will suddenly come loose and immediately be flung aside like mere toothpicks.
Then, after the tearing down and uprooting is secured, the Most High God will take upon Himself the responsibility for directing, forming, and empowering the establishment of His new foundations in your life. He rejoices in being asked to do His finest work – transforming that which was hurt, wounded, marred, and broken after sin and satan’s rule entered the world, into the most exquisite of priceless vessels – ready, prepared, and fit for the Master’s use.
That, my friend, is one unshakable foundational Truth that will change your life. Christ-believer or not, there is not a one of us who has been left to languish in prison. Our bail has already been paid by the gift of the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ. Even now though, some of us – including Christ-followers – are eating our ‘three squares a day’ hoping the mangy jail dog will fetch us the key that will bring our release.
Personally, forget the dog. I’d rather grind my axe. That is…
The prison doors aren’t holding you! Christ already shook the foundations to procure your freedom. He’d be ecstatic to have the privilege of enabling you to live like it!
It’s the greatest invitation you could ever issue. He is the Most Sure Recipient…because He already showed up long before you ever considered this prison party. If you invite Him, the prison doors are coming off their hinges!
Praising at midnight for your freedom and mine (…since the rest of Acts 16:26 says “everyone’s chains were unfastened!”).
It’s way better than two-bite chocolate,
Nancy Charlene aka Gracefully FREE!