Have you ever noticed how so many Bible stories take place in a prison? Think about Joseph in Egypt, Sampson, Jeremiah, Peter, Paul, Silas, the Apostle John, and John the Baptist come quickly to mind. This band of jail-house brothers are each part of the story God is trying to tell in the Bible and maybe He needed to get our attention in a particular way.
But why prison bars as a backdrop for the message God is trying to communicate? The metaphor of prison is one that jars our senses. It invades our minds with images of being helpless, hopeless and with little or no control. It touches the soul where the soul feels stuck and bound, where the only hope is on the outside as there are no useable resources for escape on the inside. It connects with the season in life where every day runs into the next and every day seems the same. Where there is little point but existing to do it all over and over again. One does not have to be literally in lock down to be acquainted with the prison syndrome. The addict knows about prison. So does the person who has been rejected and passed over. So does everyone who has ever hoped for more from life and not being able to see a way to get there. It is known by everyone who waits for word from an erring child or a wandering spouse. The feelings of confinement by a disability, injury or disease can also feel prison-like.
I have come to believe that it is for these that the prison stories are sprinkled throughout the pages of Scripture are special messages for you in those moments when you are the one in one kind of a prison or another, they are mini-dramas to help you know that life in prison is not the kind of life God intends but sometime it is only through the experience of being out of control that we really come to terms with what it means for Him to be in control.
For the next several weeks I am doing a study of a dozen or so of these prison stories and I want to invite you to either follow along or at least pick up your Bible and find your way to a prison story and in so doing you can find the kind of freedom that God desires for you to experience each day.