"Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, 'These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.' She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, 'In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!' At the moment the spirit left her" (Acts 16:16-18).
Prison moments in people's lives are many times experienced on the outside of prison walls. Paul and Silas, who would soon encounter one of the greatest prison-breaks recorded in Biblical history, would first encounter the prison of another. On their way to engage with God and others in worship and prayer, a slave girl attached herself to their entourage. She exclaimed the "right" things, but there was a spirit and a motivation about her that she could not understand, but was causing a holy disruption in the reality of what God was doing. For days, Paul and Silas maintained their focus on the ministry so as not to disturb was God was doing in the lives of others, but after several days, enough was enough. Paul spoke the woman who was bound in a prison controlled by an evil spirit and called it out in the Name of Jesus. He cancelled the curse it had on her life and on the ministry calling God had placed on his and those with him. The break-out of her prison only then opened the door for him and Silas to enter theirs. Because they dealt with what needed to be dealt with in the power and authority of the Name of Jesus, they were now being ushered into a prison that would seek to shut them up by shutting them down. But in that prison, God would again make it known loud and clear that NOTHING IS WASTED. This time, not only would THEY break free by the power of prayer, praise, and worship, but all those around them, and the inner-prison of the jailor would be rendered useless and ineffective, both for him and his family.
Being called to do the right things will not always be easy. I have learned and am still continuing to learn that trying to be a man of God that stands for seeing freedom in and for the lives of others can sometimes serve as the front door to what feels like a prison experience for myself. Doing the right thing doesn't mean that everything is going to always feel right at the moment of first encounter. But I know that as long as I keep my eyes on Jesus, respond always in the like-mindedness of His humility, that prison front door will actually be the access to a greater prison break that will not only serve to benefit me, but so many others around me. I can never look at what I am facing as just how it effects me, but on how God can use this for the breakthrough freedom of others. When I feel as though I am in that prison, I will not stop praying, not stop praising, and not stop worshiping Jesus. He is still God no matter where I am and no matter what it is that I'm facing in any moment. He does not change, so neither will my focus on Him. I know that there is power when I call on His Name. I know that there is power when praise come from my heart and out of my mouth. I know that there is power in the humility and sincerity of bowing down and worshiping Him. Where there is power there is freedom. I will continue to trust that God will use everything that He allows for me to face. I will not fear. I will not cower. I will not give into the feelings that seem stronger than me. I will look to Him and know that He allows ALL THINGS for reasons that are sometimes beyond my understanding, but never beyond His ability to use them. I know that in Jesus, there is NOTHING WASTED.
Lord Jesus, You know that there is nothing I desire more than You, more than being in Your will, more than be used for Your work. Lord Jesus, I thank You for times where everything seems to be going so amazingly great. But Lord, I thank You for the times when the word "prison" would be better used to describe reality. I know that You work ALL THINGS for Your purpose. I pray that in those times You will show me what I cannot see, whether about me, about others, or about how You will use it in me and through me. I lay my life down at Your feet. I ask for Your strength that I will never lay down at the feet of my feelings, comfort, or convenience, but that I will stand in Your grace, in humility, and reflect the patience and the love of Almighty God. Lord, thank You for the prison moments in my life. Thank You for using what the enemy thought would be used to shut me up by shutting me down, only to use it as a microphone to tell the story of who You are and what You've done! Thank You, Jesus. Words will never be enough to express my love. It's in Your Name, Amen.