I used to work at a men’s prison. One night, I received an urgent phone call in the middle of the night to come to the prison. Two minimum security inmates had jumped out a second-floor window and escaped, hiding in tall corn all night. (We didn’t find them but we quickly figured out where they would go. The next morning the local sheriff found them and no one was hurt.)
Not a good thing for most prisons. But what if there was a good prison break?
God’s prison break for us
God has prepared a prison break for us! David wrote about a such prison break when he was in a cave, either in the cave of Adullam (1 Samuel 22) or at En-Gedi (1 Samuel 24.) He had every reason to feel like he was in a prison. Not a physical prison, but a certainty of hopelessness. Have you ever felt like David felt? Check out his prayer.
1 I cry aloud with my voice to the LORD; I make supplication with my voice to the LORD. 2 I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare my trouble before Him. 3 When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path. In the way where I walk They have hidden a trap for me. 4 Look to the right and see; For there is no one who regards me; There is no escape for me; No one cares for my soul. 5 I cried out to You, O LORD; I said, “You are my refuge, My portion in the land of the living. 6 “Give heed to my cry, For I am brought very low; Deliver me from my persecutors, For they are too strong for me. 7 “Bring my soul out of prison, So that I may give thanks to Your name; The righteous will surround me, For You will deal bountifully with me.” Psalm 142:1-7 (NASB)
A few weeks ago, I wrote on the broken trap, but David told God he felt like someone had laid a trap for him, camouflaged so when he stepped in it, he was caught. Then he told God how it made him feel: “There is no escape for me. No one cares for my soul.”
Wow. No escape. No one cares. No one acknowledges how I feel. No one considers my feelings. David may have had some close advisors who listened and cared, but it didn’t always feel like it. When we are overwhelmed to the point that it feels like there is no escape and no one cares, it is hard to hear and value the caring words of the few who do.
When we are overwhelmed, it is virtually impossible to think and feel our way out on our own. We need God to help us escape. I didn’t realize that God cared. I was so overwhelmed I thought even God didn’t care for my soul. Wounded hearts rage defiantly or isolate completely.
I sat in my closet, hiding and crying, certain there was no escaping the life I had. I didn’t realize God was listening to it all. God acknowledges all the grief and shame and pain we pour out. He acknowledges our feelings and thoughts as real at the moment, and lovingly waits until we are ready for our prison break, even though He is always ready to heal and restore.
Locked in prison
How are we in prison? We look like we are walking around as free people.
A key word in the passage is a major clue. Soul. Soul as in our thoughts, emotions and will or ability to make an appropriate choice. How are we locked up in our thoughts and emotions?
Isaiah 61 describes our prison, and Jesus quoted much of it in Luke 4:18-19.
In this life we experience trauma through sudden losses. Examples include the loss of a loved one or a job or our home. We also experience trauma through the loss of any sense of worth and value, losses that come through words spoken to or about us. Our hearts are so broken we can’t believe the traumatic event is really happening to us. It is so difficult to believe that we cannot process it as truth. It is easier to believe a lie. (photo via pexels.com)
We are imprisoned in lies rather than truth. Satan, the father of lies, is the source of that influence over our thoughts and feelings.
We believe lies about who God really is and what He really wants to do. Lies about who we really are. We believe we are worth less than what God believes we are worth. When we believe lies rather than what God has said about who He is or who we are, we become captives. Prisoners of shame. Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden, shame always results when we believe lies over truth.
Captives lay down their weapons and armor and surrender. We give up and surrender thought and emotion control to lies.
We aren’t likely to escape from such a prison on our own, no matter what we do or how hard we try.
Is escape possible in this prison?
How do we escape such a prison? Is it possible? I assure you it is nothing like jumping out of a second-floor window and hoping to remain free. We do escape. Completely! All because of what Christ has accomplished for us.
David shows us how.
First, David explained his trouble to the Lord. He poured out his complaint and what had been running through his mind over and over. He acknowledged that his spirit was overwhelmed and he felt like it was dark inside.
Like David, we need to pour out our hurt, confusion, anger and pain. I learned God was not intimidated by my thoughts and feelings, even the anger I felt toward Him. He will never despise or reject us when we talk to Him with such honesty. Whether we understand it or not, God is waiting and walking alongside us, fully aware of our life experiences and our thoughts and feelings about them.
God intimately knows the traps Satan keeps laying for us in our thoughts and feelings. The intimidation, false accusations, false guilt, shame, certainty there can be no victory in the mess we see we’re in. He lovingly waits for us to be ready for healing and restoration.
Second, David acknowledged God as his refuge.
I had to learn God was my only true safe place. I struggled to believe that, but I kept talking to God about it. As God healed my broken heart, restoration has come and I know it for sure now.
Third, David asks God to bring his soul out of prison. Not his life, but his soul.
Like David, we can cry out “God, help! Bring my thoughts and feelings out of this prison of lies and deception. Rescue me from intimidation, false accusation, false guilt, shame and the certainty there is no victory.” He can’t wait to answer a prayer like that.
David didn’t yet know the rest of the story. Jesus had not yet come. So the next element of our prison break is found in what Peter says Jesus did. Peter explains how we break out of the prison Isaiah described.
38 How God anointed and consecrated Jesus of Nazareth with the [Holy] Spirit and with strength and ability and power; how He went about doing good and, in particular, curing all who were harassed and oppressed by [the power of] the devil, for God was with Him. Acts 10:38 (AMP)
Jesus was anointed to do good and to heal where we are harassed and oppressed by the devil.
Doing good means “conferring the benefits.” The benefits are explained in Psalm 103:2-5. They cover every aspect of what Jesus accomplished on the cross for us as part of our salvation. Salvation available to you as well if you didn’t know that yet.
The devil harasses and oppresses, continually exposing the shame and blame by means of falsehood and deception and by twisting the truth.
How can we be sure of being completely free when we break out of prison?
8 …. The reason that the Son of God appeared was to destroy what the devil does. 1 John 3:8b (GW)
Jesus came to destroy what the devil does. To destroy that continual exposure to shame and blame. We don’t have to listen any more.
Yes, our soul or our thoughts and feelings and choices can be busted out of prison! That’s great news! We may need to be busted out of prison many times but we can begin to see more and more who God really is and what He really thinks about us. There is such freedom in not being held back by the lies. Thank you, God, my Deliverer!
Carol Boggess, author and speaker
Rivers – A Journey of Restoration From Broken to Breakthrough and God Sees Broken Hearts