The Reward for Surviving Rough Seas

The Reward for Surviving Rough Seas
We are all like sea shells tossed about in rough waters and being re-shaped in wondrous ways. But have you ever contemplated the notion that sea shells have to complete their journey through the rough waters before they get to rest on the shore? Yeah, we are ALL like sea shells and Heaven is The Great Shore.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Prison Bars

Greetings Everybody,
This morning I have another photo that I want to share with you.
Here ya go:


This is a window on the 2nd floor of the Castillo de San Marcos Fort in St. Augustine, Florida.

You will note that there are bars on the window
(as well as the modern day addition of the "bird-discouraging-pointy-wires" on the ledge of the window).

The day that I took this photo, it was bleak outside.

The sky was Grey & Leaky.
The walls of the Fort were Grey.
The floors of the Fort were Grey.

The whole scene was very monochromatic indeed.

I looked up and saw this window above me and thought that it was really stunning in its' overall Bleakness.

And then I thought that peoples lives should not be like this.

Nobody should have to be on the inside of those bars looking out.
Nobody should have to be on the outside of those bars looking in at those who ARE inside them.

And I pondered the notion of prison and of what it must be like to be a prisoner.

What would it be like to be behind those bars looking out at say...BLUE SKY?
Would it be better or worse than looking out at grey sky?
Would it be worse to see the contrast between beautiful blue sky and the bleak grey prison walls surrounding you?

It made me contemplate LIFE in general.
And I had a few salient thoughts:

1.  Too many times we sit behind bars and look out wishing that we could be free.

2.  Those bars may be made out of financial hardship, or physical disability, or spiritual depravity or a whole host of other materials.

3.  But to be behind prison walls is a hard way to live.

The day I visited the Fort, I did go into some dark and dreary areas. 
But it was not overwhelming to me, because I knew that I could leave any time I wanted to.

I had only to open the door and walk out.

I have Free Will and the ability to Exercise that Free Will.

And isn't LIFE just like that TOO?

Most of the "prison bars" that we experience are "prison bars" of our own making.

And unless we are talking actual court ordered prison time, there is scriptural precedence for God taking away those emotional and spiritual "prison bars".

"Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom, prisoners suffering in iron chains, for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High. So he subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains." Psalms 107:10-14


Yet sometimes, our prison bars are quite REAL.
Christians are not exempt from experiencing such hardships.

Apostles spent time in jail:
     -Peter & John
                 "They arrested the apostles and put them in 
                   the public jail." Act 4:18
     -Paul was in jail several times:
                 -The Philippian jail (Acts 16)
                 -The Caesarea jail (Acts 23) 
                 -Under house arrest in a rented home in Rome  
                  (Acts 28) 
                 -Actual Prison in Rome. (2 Timothy 1)
                   

During Paul's ministry he spends roughly 5 1/2 to 6 years in prison or living as a prisoner.

Scripture even gives us a glimpse of how we are to mentally and physically respond if we are ever in prison:

"The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, "Don't harm yourself! We are all here.The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas.He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"  " Acts 16:22- 30

Their suffering, and the way they responded to it, brought somebody to Christ.

WOW...

I am NOT that good.

When I have been wronged, it's hard not to complain 
about it.

When I am hurting, my conduct is not known for drawing 
others to Jesus.

But it should be, because We ALL have prison bars.

We ALL have struggles.

We ALL have bleak times when the sky is grey and leaky.

Yet, God has shown us a way to survive and thrive.

NOBODY escapes prison bars.

But the reality is that True Freedom is only found in the 
Mind/Soul/Spirit anyway.

It's all in the way we choose to Frame our Minds and Actions.


"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Philippians 4:6 



"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
Romans 12:2 



"A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."
Proverbs 17:22



"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
Philippians 4:8 

Whatever your prison bars may be, be they literal or figurative...God can give you Freedom.

"For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." 2 Corinthians 3:17

In Him,
Grace

8 comments:

Christine said...

Oh my...another great post!
thank you

laurie said...

such an inspirational post! Very Very moving, an eye opener!!!



I found you right back!!!

Grace said...

Oh thank you Christine. The words just came to me...God is good like that.

It's good to hear from you again.

It's Sunday Morning...woohoo!
First Church and then the Kids will be coming over for lunch. Woohoo.

I get to sing and fellowship and be around my Church Family AND will get to hold BOTH grandkids today.

It's gonna be a GREAT DAY!

In Him,
Grace

Grace said...

Laurie...woooHOOOOO!

Oh it is so good to hear from you.

I have been wanting to ask you...Did you ever find out any information about those Prism Glasses that we discussed?

Yay for you finding me right back!

In Him,
Grace

Jill from Killeny Glen said...

Beautiful words Grace. A challenge for me today.

Grace said...

Hello Jill,
It's so very nice to have you visit. Thank you for dropping by.

And thank you for your sweet comment. I give God the credit for giving me the words, but it is wonderful to feel that anything I might have said has touched someone else.

Thank you again for stopping by.
Looking forward to reading more of your blog as well.

Blessings to you and yours.

In Him,
Grace

Debbie said...

Grace, thank you for leaving a nice comment on my blog which led me back to yours. Great post. Last year I completed nearly 7 years in active prison ministry for incarcerated women. WOnderful years. God is alive and well in prisons. Prisoners often have the opportunity to hear the gospel, but are also inundated with false messages of many cults. It was a joy to witness many come to Christ who said that "except for their incarceration they would not know Him." We know God can reach anyone anywhere but He often chooses difficult circumstances to achieve His purpose. I loved the way you used that example to demonstrate how we can isolate ourselves from the truth of the gospel. I'll be back to visit again,
Debbie

Grace said...

OH Debbie...you brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. Thank you for sharing your work in The Lord with me. And thank you for the knowledge that you will be back again.

I have only known a few women who have done prison ministry. It takes a special soul to answer that calling. Bless you for your heart and your time of service in that work.

Btw, as I was typing this, it occured to me that there is another post I wrote that might have special value to you. I believe it was "He Makes All Things Beautiful In His Time." I wrote it after visiting Alcatraz.

May God bless you richly.

I am looking forward to reading more of your words.

In Him,
Grace