A few days ago I visited a man who is in jail looking at several years of prison in his future. From the moment I walked in he had a smile on his face that was from ear to ear. The only time he wasn’t smiling was when he was crying. He began to share with me that he grew up in church and was saved around the age of 8 and was in and out of church most of his life. He told me that he had been in prison before for about 18 months and rededicated his life over and over again. He said that he has gone around and around with “jailhouse religion” like a lot of people do when they are in the “tank”. Just then he looked straight into my eyes and said; “pastor, this time there’s something different.” He proceeded to tell me that he got down on his knees on May 10th and completely surrendered his life to the Lord. He was so excited about his knew relationship with Christ. He told me about the devotions and daily bible reading that he was doing. He began quoting scripture that the Lord had spoken to him. He sleeps on the bottom bunk and told me about the memory verse cards that are taped on the bottom of the top bunk so that when he is lying in bed he can read and memorize his verses. Most of all, he shared the peace and freedom that he felt in his heart and soul.
He shared a lot about the life he had lived on the streets and together we came to this conclusion: Prison is a heart condition not a life position. He realized that while he was free from jail he was really in a prison being held captive by drugs and other things. But now that he is in prison and has stopped playing games with God, he is really free. He has accepted the consequences that will follow over the next several years, but believes that God has a plan and a purpose for him even while he is in prison. He knows that he is free to live the life that God has planned for him even though he is temporarily behind bars. Prison is no longer something that is permanently within. He discovered that he really found his life when he lost it for Christ’s sake. In other words, he surrendered all that was in his heart.
You might not be in prison today, but are you? Prison is not only defined by your physical location, but also by the condition of your heart. Perhaps the bars that you are behind are drugs, alcohol, guilt, pornography, anger, depression, etc. Some people are imprisoned by their desire to please others or their self-image. You might be free to walk the streets while imprisoned all the while. I want to encourage you today to lose your life to the one that is the giver of true life. Jesus Christ said in Luke 4:18 that He was “sent to proclaim release to the captives…to set free those who are oppressed.”
Surrender your life completely to Christ today. Now is the time to stop playing games with God and repent. Change the direction of your heart to the well-spring of life. I promise you that when you lose your life for Him, it is then that you will find it.