“Why do you stay in prison
when the door is so wide open?
Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence.” (Unsourced)
I have never been in prison, and what I have heard of it deters any desire for residency. That doesn't mean, however, that I have not created my own prison. Prisons are designed to separate the undesirable in our culture from the civilized. Sometimes the difference is convoluted.
Personal prisons come in many forms like addictions, fear, and even love. Many of the prisons we create can be overcome if we understand its root and the mechanisms of release. Even addicts can find release, though they will always be plagued by the temptations of their addiction. Why is it that we remain behind the bars of our prisons when the doors stand before us wide open?
The poem above directs us to let go of fear and embrace silence. Letting go of fear isn't easy. I watch those hoarding shows once in awhile and am amazed (appalled) at the filth to which people become entrapped. Then I think about the things that I hoard. Some people hoard anger toward others; some hoard grief, some hoard lust, greed, self-interest, self-loathing, pride, hatred, etc. We hold on to these things because we are afraid that letting them go will create a different pain that will be harder to endure then the one that imprisoned us in the first place. When we hoard grief (fearing to let it go) it is because we fear that releasing it means forgetting the one who has died. When we hoard anger, we fear that releasing and forgiving means letting someone get away with injustice. Much of the time those who are hurt most are the ones trapped in the prisons of their own fears.
The bible says, "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18). God's perfect love for us releases us from the fear of eternal judgment. God's perfect love forgives us from our sin. God's perfect love releases us to forgive and love others as he has done for us. God's perfect love empowers us to grieve with hope, forgive the unforgiveable, find strength in purity, contentment in poverty, mercy in injustice, and significance in self-doubt. The closer we get to the Father, the less fear we have of the world. His perfect love casts out fear.
Cultivating a life that reflects the perfect love of God isn't always easy. It is nurtured in an environment of silence. Silence is a discipline that closes our mouth, opens our ears, and allows God to speak. We need to stop talking, turn off the TV and radio, put down our electronics, and set aside the distractions that fill our lives, and listen. Try this for 15 minutes and find how difficult it is. "Cease striving (talking, moving around, going about) and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). We know God through His Word, silence, and prayer.
I can see the door in front of me, it is wide open, and stretched before me is the freedom for which my heart cries. Jesus says, "Come and be set free." I'm just saying...