“I can’t break out of prison now. Orange is totally my color!”
Our video today (link above) highlights a prison break. You imagine the jailbird would be ecstatic to see his liberator, but instead he starts making excuses as to why he needs to stay there. Despite the fact that his friend so graciously and courageously offers literal freedom just beyond the walls, the prisoner chooses to remain in bondage.
Our mind has a funny way of holding us hostage too. Sometimes it might be more obvious, or our humanness will take something God intended for good and twist it ever so slightly into something unholy. Once the enemy plants this poisonous seed in a vulnerable spot, it gets fertilized and nourished by our thoughts ultimately preventing us from reaching our full God-given potential.
For years, I suffered from “Imposter Syndrome” -- the false idea that one’s success is the product of luck or fraud rather than abilities or skills. It was humility gone awry. My first decade working, every phone call from our assignments team resulted in a promotion into an area I really wasn’t that familiar with. Anyone else would’ve been thrilled with these opportunities, but all I could do was question their thought process. “Are you sure I’m the right person for this job?” “I’ve never done that before!” “I don’t look the part.” Before hanging up, all of these mentors would kind of chuckle and tell me the matter had been carefully considered, and everyone had agreed I was the right person at the right time. With the phone receiver still in my hand, it was mere moments before it happened:
Major. Freak out.
I was certain they would eventually figure out that I wasn’t good enough. There were about a billion ways I’d fall flat on my face. No one would take me seriously -- not my peers, counterparts, subordinates, bosses. Nobody. Every fiber of my being told me I’d watch my career die a slow and painful death…sort of like Leo Dicaprio’s character in “Titanic” hanging onto that door in the middle of the frigid Atlantic. I imagined my enemies giggling with glee at my public demise as they pried my cold fingers from the edge and I drifted off into the murky water of failure and shame. Over years, I honed this toxic thought process the same way I honed my marksmanship skills…and I was an expert in both.
The funny thing is -- you don’t even realize you are hostage. You begin to believe: this is as good as it’s gonna get. “I can’t miss ‘hot dog Wednesday’” easily drowns out the message that “you can buy whatever food you want once you get out there!” As for me, I can tell you exactly what my mental prison looked like: a bubble bath. I’d fill that grungy bathtub with the nastiest emotional bath water, happily hop in with my rubber ducky, and just stew in the filth. I equipped that grimy bathtub with candles, bath salts, and even one of those fancy tub pillows -- excuses as to why we need to stay small, keep God small, and not step into the life of freedom the Lord called us to. It was the only way I could control my circumstances.
John 10:10 -- “The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come that they might have life and live it abundantly.”
Isaiah 61:1 -- “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.”
How did I finally climb out of that slimy pit? God sent a coach who asked a simple question, and in three minutes this complete stranger blew my world wide open. It doesn’t really matter what the question was, because it’s different for everyone. But that coach dared me to step out of the tub and imagine a world where I had no boundaries and no limitations -- because God has no limitations. Yes, He sent his precious son to die for our sins so we can go to heaven after this life. But He also intended you to live a life of joy right here on earth and even in the midst of great trials! (1 Peter 1:6-9) This is the freedom God’s word speaks of and the same freedom He is extending to you.
But you have to make a choice: you must let go of the one thing that is holding you hostage. The one thing that keeps telling you “this is as good as it gets.” God’s word does not preach “make lemonade out of lemons”…it preaches a God who has already conquered the world (John 16:33). It preaches that ALL things work for your good (Rom 8:28). So what is that one thing the Lord is asking you to surrender to live the life of true freedom you are seeking?
And for the record: orange is most definitely not your color -- strength and dignity are (Prov 31:25).
Video credit: “The Prisoner” by Messenger TV