Musing this morning on Peter’s release from prison (Acts 12):
- Persecution: James is killed for his faith.
- Prison: Peter is arrested and imprisoned.
- Prayer: The church prays.
- Provision: God provides an angel and a way out.
- Practicalities: Chains fall off, he gets dressed, he walks out.
- Power: This is supernatural; angels aren’t normal.
Freedom from Prison: The story is used as a picture of people in their ‘prison’ of addictions, poverty, debt, destructive relationships… discovering a new freedom. Some may remember Wesley’s hymn based on Peter’s story that speaks of spiritual imprisonment and freedom.
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
Freedom in Prison: There has been much to remind us of African-American slaves recently; there have been stories of people in Auschwitz and German prisoner of war camps. Stories of imprisonment, injustice and unspeakable suffering. Some tell of eventual escape and freedom. What challenges and inspires me more is that even within suffering and imprisonment some have found courage, peace and freedom.
I was unsettled yesterday to hear of a lady I know who has hardly left her home for the last six months. Her anxieties about her health has made her a prisoner in her own home.
Many face their own prison… debilitating illness, caring for family members. children with life-restricting illnesses, parents with dementia, partners with deteriorating health, ongoing cancer treatment, depression, stress, fears….
Some find freedom from their prison through change of circumstances, healing, natural or supernatural intervention or death.
Others discover freedom within their prison. Accepting, appreciating what they do have, often embracing a power greater than their own, they discover freedom, facing each day with peace, courage, gratitude and joy.