Pray As You Go 3/30/20

Windows of a Prison or a Sanctuary?

 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

After two years had passed” were the simple words Luke used in Acts 24 to describe Paul’s confinement at the hands of Felix. Reading some of the Facebook posts these last couple of weeks, the self-imposed or required quarantine may start to feel like two years too many.  We find ourselves sheltered in place because of an unknown and unseen virus. Paul finds himself in confinement as a political pawn in the game of religious power play. Falsely accused and imprisoned, he is now a tool in Felix’s political toolkit to please the Jewish leaders. Either way, confinement forces change, restricts movement and limits choices.

Paul would probably have preferred to go where he wanted, when he wanted and how he wanted. The prison walls of his confinement kept him bound within walls not of his making, yet he made the most of his time. He could have worried. He could have fretted. He could have feared the unknown but he chose to spend his time preparing for the ultimate opportunity to speak before the Emperor of Rome about the true giver of life.

You may find yourself “imprisoned” in walls not of your making – You may have been exposed to the virus and find yourself self-quarantined; Your office has closed, requiring you to work from home; Your children’s schools are closed and you find yourself homeschooling; Your business has shut down and you find yourself without a job; You find yourself in a job requiring you to work in the middle of the crisis. These are walls that keep you from freely moving! Walls can be confining and restricting or freeing, depending upon whether they are walls of a prison or a sanctuary.

Prisons are lonely. In a sanctuary we find peace with Jesus; our one hope, the fulfillment of the promised one. In Luke 24 we find two disciples struggling to understand.  They had watched Jesus’ brutal death yet now hear the rumors of his resurrection. They are walking and talking when a stranger joins their conversation. So deep is their pain, so fearful of the future that they don’t bother to look into the eyes of this stranger. Hours are spent on the road with this stranger until finally they see with open eyes that the one walking with them is Jesus. They were flabbergasted and both spoke at the same time, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us!” Luke 24:32

Paul learned to stoke the fire that burned within him during his time of confinement. The two disciples learned to stoke the fire while in their imposed confinement of doubt and fear. Jesus stoked the fire that burned within him in the Garden of Gethsemane.  If you are one of those who finds yourself in confinement, take time to stoke the fires within you. Oswald Chambers write, “It is the dull, bald, dreary, commonplace day, with commonplace duties and people, that kills the burning heart unless we have learned the secret of abiding in Jesus.

There were others who found themselves in the same prison with Paul during those two years. Prisoners who looked at the walls and mourned their confinement. There were guards who walked the grounds of the prison and only saw the walls of confinement. Prisoners and guards alike, they only could see the world through the window of a prison. Paul looked out the same window but with a heart of prayer and confidence, instead of a prison window; his window was of a sanctuary. What window are you looking out of today?

For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble;

He will conceal me under the cover of his tent;

He will set me high on a rock.” Psalm 27:5

God is great,

Pastor Lynn Burton

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