"The people of Israel are oppressed, and the people of Judah as well. All their captors hold them fast, refusing to let them go. Yet their Redeemer is strong; the Lord Almighty is his name. He will vigorously defend their cause so that he may bring rest to their land, but unrest to those who live in Babylon." - Jeremiah 50:33-34
I know my prison well. I can see the rocky walls, a damp trickle of water running down one of them, and the scratches in the smoother places of dates, names, crimes and resentments. I star at them in fear. The bars are rusty, the prison cold, I see my shackles I know so well, and hear the chains clank and as I curl up for warmth.
I prefer my prison. In my life of wrestling with anxiety and depression, I know that I often choose my prison.
This week I've spent a couple days in bed "sick". I know it's not good to stay in bed when you're wrestling with anxiety and depression, but I've given in. I just don't want to face all the craziness that is in my mind, so I've slumbered and rested, and oddly I do feel better.
But in retreating and seeking my needs first, I've hurt others. I missed a friend’s appointment who really wanted to be with me, I missed a gathering at work where I could have served. I've gone into prison mode, locking myself off from the world, because my unrealistic fears were just too big.
A friend leaned across the table this morning and said, "I won't let you do that. I want to be with you. I experience Christ through you."
My captors hold me fast. Fears of what people think of me, what's expected of me, how I measure up, whether I am liked, whether my sin is leaking out, whether people see my shame on my face, it all holds me fast, gripping me with vices daring me to try to step out of prison, or out of bed.
Ever have those mornings like mine? They need a lot of coffee. Ha.
My Lord is STRONG. The LORD ALMIGHTY is his name. He whispers to me, "Son, my dear son, get up. Walk into your world for it is my world. I will vigorously defend your cause. My people shall arise and see me bring them joy and their land rest."
Now how about that? God wants me to take joy in my weakness. To walk out in confidence that he is strong and I am not. To rejoice when I feel vulnerable and want to stay under the covers. To rejoice when I find strength from him to go out and be me, a freed prisoner. Me, broken yet mending, blinded by time in the dark, but rejoicing at the sun on my face. For he is bringing rest to me and the land.
Sometimes setting foot in God's ways is the most painful and scary thing in the world. I so prefer my prisons, my methods and modes of being ok with myself and the world around me. Hell, it's all I'm used to and Hell is all I'm used to. But wait that's not true, I know of a prison breaker, a strong redeemer. The LORD Almighty is his name.