Tag Archives: Prisoners

Boxes

I hate to admit it, but I live in a box.  It’s a box created for me by others, by business, family, friends and the world around me. But the really sad truth is that I willingly climbed in the box and taped the lid shut…never asking if it was a box I should be in at all, never thinking about the implications of such a box in my life.  Like everyone around me I was given a box by someone somewhere and willingly made it my own and even wrote my name on it!  It became part of my identity.

Like children playing, making cars, houses and forts out of boxes we adults build invisible boxes for one another.  Boxes of expectation, roles, position, and a hundred other words to describe the box we have come to call our identity, or role, our “place”.  We never stop to think about what that box means, how it might affect us and our choices or the way we think. Our box limits our choices, restricts our vision, and frustrates our gifts.

This morning I had coffee with a good friend who told me I was living in a box.  He didn’t know where I got it, but he described it well.  As he listened to me he made me aware  of how restricted my vision had become because of the box I had accepted many years ago.  It was humbling to realize I had been given a box and had never questioned its role in my life.  Was it right? Should I get into it? Is this the way I should live?  Is this how I should think?

Without any questions I took the boxes handed me and made them my own. They have limited me, identified me, and restricted God’s work in my life.  How did I ever let this happen? Why did I believe this box was what I needed to identify me?

Children love boxes.  They aren’t so much fun when they define your life, your thinking or your values as an adult.  I can’t believe that I let this happen….happy to look out the hole I had cut in my box and survey the world around me….trying to make boxes like mine for others….only to find I had made prisoners of us all.

I’m taking a different tack today as I look at my thoughts and my life.  I’ve decided it’s time to be done with the boxes of childhood and walk in the freedom of the grace that Christ has provided.

Read Romans 8 as you look at your own life. What boxes have you made your own?  How have you missed God’s grace by accepting the boxes others have given you?

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

When Things Happen Suddenly

According to the dictionary here are some definitions for suddenly:  happening, coming, made, or done quickly, without warning, unexpectedly, occurring without transition from the previous form or state, done abruptly, quickly made or provided.

So often we get caught up in the day-to-day processes of life that we can lose hope and feel like things will never change.  Sometimes we hear of famous people who seem to be an overnight sensation and wonder “why did it come so easily for them”?  However, you discover from the story of their life that they had been diligently working away for years in small ventures, gaining experience and perfecting their skills, just waiting to land the right opportunity.

Looking through the Bible there are some wonderful examples of those who experience their sudden moment.  Shepherds tending their flocks, a group of people united in faith and purpose, prisoners praying and singing, and a misguided man on a journey of cruel intention – all of them experienced their appointed moment of “suddenly”.  Listed below are their stories.

 

Luke 2:13 – And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God…

God shows up to announce a fulfillment of His promise and purpose.  These were ordinary shepherds doing ordinary work.  They weren’t too busy or distracted to hear and respond to the spectacular announcement made by the angels.  Sometimes the promise has been a long time coming, but as we remain available to respond God will make sure we don’t miss its sudden arrival.

Matthew 17: 5 – While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”

Don’t be surprised when God suddenly decides to publicly praise, reward or honor you as a result of your faithfulness.  When your praise is God ordained, you don’t have to be fearful of pride gaining a foothold.  He knows just the right way to bless and acknowledge you in such a way that you won’t become prideful.  You can rejoice in knowing that your Heavenly Father is pleased with you.

Acts 2:2 – And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

As we wait patiently and faithfully continue doing what we know we’re supposed to do, God will show up in a big way to reveal something more of His purpose for us.  Something new and unexpected is suddenly made available to us by His gracious provision.  The key is to be patient and faithful right where you are at now.

Acts 9:3 – As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.

Then there are those times when God encounters people when they aren’t even looking for Him.  Perhaps you have been interceding on behalf of someone else for a long time, but don’t be surprised when they share with you about their sudden and unexpected, God-orchestrated encounter.  He knows exactly how, when and where to meet people in their journey of life.

Acts 16:26 – Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.

Sometimes we feel resistance that is the same as heavy chains upon us.  But there are no chains so great that God cannot loose us from them as we keep our focus on Him.  The resistance you feel can be used as a point of growth and strengthening, but it is not meant to endure forever.  When the time is right you will be enabled to freely move on to the next thing appointed for you and ultimately celebrate success.

Sometimes what feels like a sudden change is something that has been gradually building and it just feels sudden because it has been a long time coming.  Some sudden moments have been built by the bridge of faithfulness and endurance, other times those moments have been built through life experience and preparation, and others are simply God’s grace and purpose extended to us.  Be encouraged and remember that God has not forgotten you and He knows the perfect timing for your moment of “suddenly”.

I have personally experienced an entire season of sudden moments where multiple things seemed to converge like change and crisis, leaving me both confused and in awe.  It could have been entirely overwhelming at the time, but looking back I see where God’s hand guided me and the wisdom of His timing makes so much sense in hindsight.

Have you ever experience a moment of suddenly with God?  Are you anticipating God to move suddenly in your life this year?  What can you do to be prepared for you suddenly moment?  Your comments are always welcome and are a wonderful source of encouragement for others.

 

Lightning photo by Larry Johnson