I, therefore the prisoner of the Lord… Ephesians 4:1
We know that Paul in this scripture is speaking in a spiritual sense. Our life is not our own when we become a follower of Christ, and we are bound to serve and obey the God that called us. But sometimes our situations seem confining. Prison is a perfect analogy for trials and tribulations. Being locked into situations that you cannot escape is like being sentenced to hard labor. If you were in prison, and the doors to the prison were wide open would you walk out? The obvious answer is yes, if given the choice. God’s prison is special. The choice is yours. You can always walk out and your choice is never taken away. You can choose not to listen to God’s commands but what are the consequences. Well, not only broken fellowship but you break God’s heart.
My son asked a question during family devotion that was difficult to answer about heaven and hell.
He said, “Mom, if God gives you free will, is it really free, if your choice will land you in Hell. To me that‘s not really free choice. I mean why give free choice, if men make such bad choices.” Out of the mouth of babes. I think he was 12 at the time.
“Ellis, that’s good question” I said, “and I know exactly what you mean by that, but you have to understand that God wants us to serve him out of Love. Free choice is a gift from God. Love is not forced. God gets the greatest glory when we choose to obey and serve him because we love Him, not because we’re forced to.”
Difficult situations require us to seek the Lord for his will and choosing to stay until God provides deliverance or an answer to a problem can be a battle.
So why don’t we just walk away? Why not just quit the job, end the marriage, tell the person off, move to another city if you want to? Why? Because the secret every mature Christian knows is that when you are surrendered to the will of God, your “break out” plans hinge on God’s will and not your own.
Most Christians know that an untimely escape might spell spiritual disaster. So sometimes while we are waiting on our deliverance, we have to make the best of our current situation. We need to believe that in waiting to hear from God, God always lays out his best for us and sometimes his best involves difficulties. We must still remember that God is merciful and will not allow us to be tempted above what we are able to bear.
In 1989, I had a job in retail management. I come from a family of high achievers and highly educated people. We have had U.S. Senators, community leaders and educators in my family. So because I had an expensive education, my aunt, called me a “shop keeper”, a somewhat derogatory term in our family, but I don’t think she meant any harm. She just wanted to be able to brag on me, but at that point in my life, I had to do what I needed to survive. Well this was during a time my husband was out of work and we were praying for more to come along and I was grateful for my job.
I know this can sound cliché, but my boss hated me. Betty decided it was her mission in life to make me miserable, embarrass and harass me. I wanted to leave, but we needed the money. I was, in a sense, a prisoner to this situation. Betty was supposed to train me as an assistant manager, and maybe she didn’t like the way I looked, but the first week on the job, she was yelling at any mistake and it made making me nervous, which caused me to make more mistakes. She would discuss my lack of progress with the other employees, which made it hard for me to supervise them. It would be safe to say that she wanted me to quit. I knew there is such a thing as dignity but I was not sure where to find it here.
It is not always time to leave because we hate the circumstances. I had to keep a good attitude on the outside to keep my job, but on the inside, I cried about unfair the treatment was; and that I did not deserve this; and wondered if God really gave me this job? Betty was relentless in her humiliation. Needless to say I was not learning much about store management; I just learned how to stay out her way. One night on the bus home, I broke down in tears because I had to hold so much in to keep my job. Before I got too far into my crying, I felt the Lord tap me on the shoulder, “What you hurt about is the treatment. I was treated badly too. Who are you, that you will be greater than your master? They humiliated me and you don’t need to be so proud that you can’t suffer some of the same things when I’ve given you this job”.
One day, Betty announced that she was leaving because she was being promoted. Needless to day, I wanted to dance in the aisles. Are you waiting on your own dance party? I was able to breathe better mentally coming to work and I learned not leave just because I am hurting, but to try and learn the self-lessons God has and make myself act Christ-like even when I feel like doing something else.
- Paul said that I may know Him, in the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his suffering….What is in our heart when we have to suffer humiliation? Are we thinking of how we look to others or do we meekly endure so that others can see the grace of God in action?
- Never decide to act on something while you are hurt or angry, give yourself time to pray.
- Just because we are tired of the circumstances does not mean it is God’s will to get out. Make sure you are prayerful in all your moves and God’s hand of approval is on what you are doing.
Blessings to All